Division II All-American Parker Fox will get to prove he can play at a higher level by returning home after he committed Thursday night to play for the Gophers.
"It just felt right," the Mahtomedi native told the Star Tribune. "My heart was there. I just knew it was the spot I wanted to be."
The 6-foot-8 Fox averaged 22.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and national-best 3.5 blocks as a junior last season at Northern State in South Dakota. The same kid with no D-I offers out of high school received nearly 30 calls from schools after entering the transfer portal last month.
Fox picked his home state Gophers over high-major programs such as Ohio State, Creighton, Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Texas Christian.
Here's the video of his announcement:
He called it "unreal" that he'll get to play on the same Williams Arena floor where he helped to sweep during timeouts as a kid. He grew up watching and admiring Gophers players such as Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams Jr., and Andre Hollins.
"I knew that this was my home," Fox said. "And I didn't want to be anywhere else but in Minnesota."
Last season, Fox shot 36% from three-point range and tallied 74 blocks and 80 dunks. His best games were with 39 points and eight blocks vs. Moorhead, and 21 points and 21 rebounds vs. St. Cloud State.
Known for his elite jumping ability and high-flying dunks, Fox hopes this next move raises his profile to play pro basketball after his college career. He will have two years of eligibility left after graduating this spring.
"I just think my heart, energy and the way I play the game with passion will translate," Fox said. "I want to play inside and out. Set screens and roll. Handle the ball. And do a little bit of everything. I think [new Gophers coach Ben Johnson] wants to play a prostyle offense. That's the way my game works being able to free flow."
Fox's former Minnesota Heat AAU teammate Sean Sutherlin committed to the Gophers recently. Sutherlin, a 6-5 New Hampshire grad transfer and Irondale guard, never let up on trying to convince his old friend to join him at the U.
"I had a [video chat with] him this morning with my Gophers shirt on," Fox said. "He was all excited. It's going to be fun to get back with my guy."
Fox is the fifth commitment for Johnson, who also landed transfers Jamison Battle (George Washington), Luke Loewe (William & Mary) and E.J. Stephens (Lafayette).
On Thursday, Gophers senior forward Brandon Johnson declared for the NBA draft but is maintaining his college eligibility. Johnson is considering the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.