Drew Peterson, Gophers fans hardly knew you.
The Rice men’s basketball transfer who committed to Minnesota on Monday announced on social media Friday he was reopening his recruitment. Just like that, coach Richard Pitino will be looking for another wing to fill his final scholarship for 2020.
Peterson, a 6-foot-8, 185-pound guard, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He and others were hoping a new NCAA rule granting players a one-time transfer pass would be approved this spring. On Thursday, a board of directors recommended against that.
Peterson told the Star Tribune later Thursday that he was planning to file for the NCAA waiver that can grant immediate eligibility, so he could play for the Gophers this year. But on Friday, his mind had changed.
“After discussing with my family, I am reopening my recruitment,” Peterson wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Minnesota is still very much a possibility for me. I hope everyone understands the importance of making such a big life choice during these unprecedented times. Please respect my decision.”
Peterson, a Libertyville, Ill., native who averaged 11.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a sophomore last season at Rice, was one of three transfers to commit to the Gophers this spring. Drake center Liam Robbins and Western Michigan forward Brandon Johnson already signed to open the late recruiting period.
Johnson is a graduate transfer and thus eligible to play right away, but Robbins will file a waiver to play in 2020-21. Monday, Peterson said he spoke to Pitino about the possibility of having to sit out the upcoming season.
“If we can get me playing first year, we’re ready to go with that,” he said. “If things don’t go well and I sit out a year, it’s good for development anyway.”
The Division I board of directors announced Thursday it had recommended no changes be made to the transfer process. Current NCAA rules require transfers in men’s and women’s basketball, football, baseball and hockey to sit out a season before being eligible to play.
The one-time exception for transfers to play right away is expected to be voted on during the Division I Council’s meeting May 20.
With the open scholarship, the Gophers are searching for a player who could compete for a starting backcourt spot alongside returning starters Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur. Carr declared early for the NBA draft but is expected to be back next season.
The Gophers reached out to Miami (Ohio) junior Nike Sibande on Friday; the 6-4 guard was the RedHawks’ leading scorer at 13.9 points per game and entered the transfer portal this week. He has one year of eligibility remaining but is not a graduate transfer. Other grad transfers the Gophers have contacted this spring include UNLV’s Jonah Antonio and Monmouth’s Ray Salnave.
In the 2020 high school recruiting class, Pitino already signed four-star Brewster Academy (N.H.) guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. and four-star Chicago Heights Bloom forward Martice Mitchell.