Dartmouth graduate transfer Taurus Samuels, who is visiting with the Gophers men's basketball team through this weekend, could be a missing piece in the backcourt for next season.
The 6-1, 190-pound senior averaged 9.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists while starting all 23 games for the Big Green in 2021-22.
Samuels, who scored in double figures in four of his last five games, had his top performances of the season with 22 points against Stanford and 23 points against Georgetown.
Gophers coach Ben Johnson signed Morehead State transfer Ta'Lon Cooper last month to likely be his starting point guard. But Samuels could be an added veteran presence in the backcourt.
"Heard the team has picked up some really good pieces," Samuels told the Star Tribune before arriving in Minneapolis on Thursday.
When asked what he could potentially bring to the Gophers, Samuels said: "leadership, and just a hard working mentality that wants to do whatever it takes to win."
Johnson has two scholarships remaining for next season. But the Gophers might only add one more player this spring, Johnson said Thursday. He already likes the depth of the current 2022-23 roster.
"Our staff really loves everyone on this roster and wants to see those guys improve and grow," Johnson said. "I don't think we'll go up to 13. We'll just kind of feel it out a little bit."
In the spring signing period, Johnson also inked North Carolina transfer and former Prior Lake big man Dawson Garcia and Colony High School (Calif.) wing Jaden Henley.
"I think right now I feel pretty good about our program," Johnson said. "If we could add depth, maybe a combo [guard], we would probably lean that way a little bit, but I really like our roster."
The Gophers lost their entire starting backcourt and two reserve guards through graduation and the portal. Cooper, Henley, and Park Center senior and Minnesota Mr. Basketball Braeden Carrington are their only backcourt players for 2022-23 right now.
Don't be surprised if the U's top returning scorer Jamison Battle and fellow forward Isaiah Ihnen, who was out with a knee injury this year, get looks at the off guard spot next season. Johnson even said Thursday, "I probably would like to get Jaden some looks at [point guard], especially with his size and versatility."
But the fact that the Gophers already found their new point guard "that was huge," Johnson said. Cooper, a 6-4 Detroit native, ranked seventh nationally with 5.9 assists per game.
"That was a guy who you watched on film, and we targeted right away," Johnson said. "He fits everything we needed. And then when you talk to him on the phone, he's everything you want in a lead guard."
Samuels, a California native, started 52 games in three seasons at Dartmouth. Cooper has 52 starts as well, including 34 this season when he earned All-Ohio Valley Conference first team honors.
"There's a lot of ways we could go," Johnson added. "Right now, I would say the only spot would really be is there a combo who could [help] Ta'Lon out a little bit?"