Gophers men's coach Ben Johnson and his staff spend as much time recruiting the transfer portal as ever, which is the reality in today's college basketball landscape.

Having to compete for players with NIL (name, image, and likeness) is often a determining factor, making recruiting the portal harder than ever. The Gophers had some portal hits, but the misses lately have been tough to swallow for a fan base anxious to turn around from a 9-22 season.

Most recently, the Gophers saw Bryant's Charles Pride and Montana State's Darius Brown II announce commitments to St. Bonaventure and Utah State, respectively. What makes losing those players bigger blows to the Gophers is that they both visited Minnesota's campus last week.

Pride and Brown would have been quality pickups for Johnson to solidify a Gophers backcourt in desperate need of experience and depth for the 2023-24 season.

Pepperdine's Mike Mitchell Jr., one of the top point guards in the portal, signed with the U last month. As did 6-11, 300-pound Washington State center Jack Wilson.

But the need remains at guard, where the Gophers only returning player is Braeden Carrington, a freshman last season. They also signed four-star recruit Cameron Christie in the 2023 class.

Last year, the Gophers landed their final transfer with Dartmouth's Taurus Samuels on May 9, so they've been able to add one to their roster this late in the past. Filling two scholarships will be even tougher.

More than two dozen guards who were contacted by the Gophers after entering the portal committed elsewhere this spring, mostly to other high major programs. But here are several guard targets still available who could be a good fit:

Nate Calmese, Lamar: The 6-2 Arizona native was the second-highest scoring freshman in the nation this season with 17.6 points per game on 48% shooting from the field and 36.7% shooting from three-point range. Programs such as Alabama, Arkansas and Arizona reportedly were interested at one point, but he's been in the portal since mid-March.

DeJuan Clayton, California: The 25-year-old entered the portal late last month to pursue his eighth season of college hoops. Yes, that's correct. The grad transfer played at Coppin State from 2016-21. But he was injured for one season at Coppin State and played only 11 games the past two seasons at Hartford and Cal because of injuries. COVID eligibility and medical redshirts give him hope for another year. He has 116 career starts and more than 1,600 points.

Elijah Hawkins, Howard: The 5-11 sophomore led the Bison in points (12.9), assists (6.0), steals (1.7) and three-point percentage (46.6) last season. The Washington D.C. native played in the NCAA tournament this year with 12 points and eight assists in a loss to Kansas in the first round. He started 55 of 59 games in two seasons.

Jarius Hicklen, North Florida: A 6-3, 175-pound graduate transfer averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the Ospreys last season. He put up a season-high 25 points in his last game in an America Sun tournament opening-round loss to Bellarmine. Hicklen played a pretty tough nonconference schedule for a midmajor guard. He faced Houston, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Pittsburgh and Washington last season, scoring in double figures in four of those five games.

DeMarr Langford Jr., Boston College: At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Langford definitely has the size of a high-major wing. In three years at BC, he averaged 8.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists with 54 starts. He averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in 2021-22. Langford has heard from teams in the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 since entering the portal in mid-April.

Deivon Smith, Georgia Tech: Smith averaged 8.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the Yellow Jackets. The 13 starts last season were a career best for him in three seasons. The 6-1 Georgia native started his career at Mississippi State playing 33 games in 2020-21, including scoring a career-high 17 points vs. Memphis in the NIT championship game. He had 10 double-figure scoring games in 2022-23, including three double-doubles with points and rebounds.