Earlier this month, the Gophers announced that walk-on Darin Haugh had been given a scholarship for the upcoming season, a move that came to the surprise of some who had watched fellow walk-on Stephon Sharp make notable gains this spring.
On Tuesday, coach Richard Pitino said the decision was primarily about seniority; Haugh, a 5-10 guard from Prior Lake, is a senior, Sharp is a sophomore.
“I told Steph ‘This has nothing to do with you,’” Pitino said. “’Darin has been in the program longer than you have. He’s done everything right.’
“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions but I think Darin has earned it …Darin has been great on the court, off the court, he’s a great leader. And I’m happy he got that opportunity.”
Haugh joined the Gophers before the 2014-15 season, sitting out that year due to NCAA rules after transferring from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato. Last year, Haugh appeared in six games, scoring two points.
The Gophers were able to give him a scholarship after redshirt senior Charles Buggs graduated and transferred to USC for his final season of eligibility.
Sharp, a 6-3 guard from Bloomington, scored just four points in 11 appearances through Feb. 4, but was inserted into the starting lineup down the stretch after a dismissal and three suspensions handicapped the backcourt. In those four remaining games, Sharp averaged 13.5 points in 36.5 minutes per game.
Pitino said Sharp was “disappointed” following the team’s decision, but the coach told the guard to look at it another way.
“I told him, big picture, this should excite him,” Pitino said. “Because if you do the right thing, we’ll take care of you. We’ve shown we’ll do that and we’ll continue to do that if we can for our guys.”