The Big Ten team will try to defend its 3-on-3 championship title during Final Four weekend this year, with another Gophers All-Big Ten standout leading the way.
Minnesota senior forward Jordan Murphy will join Wisconsin's Ethan Happ, Indiana's Juwan Morgan and Nebraska's Glynn Watson to compete in the Dos Equis 3-on-3 Championships starting Friday and running through Sunday at the Mall of America. The mall's rotunda will host the games.
Last season, former Gophers guard Nate Mason teamed with Indiana's Robert Johnson, Purdue's Vincent Edwards and Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate to take first place and win the $50,000 prize during Final Four week in San Antonio.
All 32 Division I basketball conferences are represented in the tournament, with 100 all-conference players, including eight conference players of the year, participating.
The prize pool is $150,000, but the champions take home twice as much as last season with a $100,000 payout. The winners also earn an opportunity to compete in the 2019 USA Basketball 3-on-3 open national championship May 3-4 in Las Vegas.
Murphy will have a busy week, because he will also compete in the Reese's College All-Star Game at 3 p.m. Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The 6-7 San Antonio native was sidelined by a back injury in the Gophers' loss to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament second round in Des Moines. But Murphy, who finished second all-time in school points and first in rebounds, has been rehabbing the last week to play in the Final Four events.
Former U coaches back in town
Former Gophers coaches Tubby Smith and Clem Haskins are in town to attend Final Four events this week. Smith, who coached Minnesota from 2007-13, returns to help the Keys to the Locker Room event Thursday at Minneapolis Convention Center that will donate $250,000 worth of sports gear from hundreds of college and pro teams to inner city youth.
Smith will be joined by interim Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders, Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver, Murphy and others.
Haskins, who coached the U from 1986-1999, is expected to meet with his former players, including members of the vacated 1997 Final Four team.
In October 2017, Haskins returned with his wife, Yevette, to the Twin Cities when 30 of his former players honored him at a dinner and tailgate reception before a Gophers football game. Haskins was also invited by Richard Pitino to attend a basketball practice and spoke to the team.