Howard transfer Elijah Hawkins added depth to the Gophers' backcourt with a commitment Monday to play for coach Ben Johnson next season.

Hawkins, who started 55 of 59 games at point guard in his career, left his visit with the Gophers last weekend impressed with the coaching staff and program. He also felt confident his presence was exactly what they were looking for in the transfer portal.

"I was definitely looking for a team that needed a point guard and had good pieces around them," Hawkins told the Star Tribune on Monday. "With guys like Dawson [Garcia] and the young guys, for me to come in and be a part of that I think it can really be something special."

The 5-11, 150-pound sophomore led the Bison in points (12.9), assists (6.0), steals (1.7) and three-point percentage (46.6) last season. He was was selected to the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference first team after leading the league in assists (11th nationally).

The Washington D.C. native ended the season with 12 points and eight assists in an NCAA tournament first round loss to Kansas. Hawkins led the nation with 4.0 turnovers per game, but Howard also played an unconventional style.

While on his U visit over the weekend with his family, Hawkins said the facilities were among the things that really stood out. "It can help my body get to where I want it to be at a pro level," he added.

During the recruiting process in the portal, Hawkins built a strong connection with Gophers assistant Jason Kemp early on, but Hawkins eventually felt comfortable with the entire staff, including Johnson.

"I had a good relationship with Coach Kemp," Hawkins said. "I felt like he did a really good job recruiting me. The whole coaching staff was pretty genuine with me — telling me what they needed and what I could bring to the team."

The Gophers (9-22 last season) had to reload after losing four players to the transfer portal this spring, including starters Jamison Battle, Ta'Lon Cooper and Jaden Henley. Garcia, their leading scorer and rebounder, and freshman Pharrel Payne are likely the starting frontcourt next season, but freshman Braeden Carrington was the only guard returning on the roster.

Four-star guard Cameron Christie from Illinois highlights the U's 2023 high school recruiting class. But Johnson also added two transfers in the spring signing period with 6-11, 315-pound former Washington State center Jack Wilson and former Pepperdine guard Mike Mitchell Jr.

Hawkins expressed excitement that the Gophers signed Mitchell, another experienced guard transfer with similar strengths. They both can shoot and facilitate at a high level.

"I feel like Mike and I can blend well," Hawkins said. "I feel like we're both unselfish. I feel like that will definitely work. We can feed off each other because we both can shoot [and pass]. We both shot over 40 percent from three last year. So, I feel like us playing together will be great."