The Gophers men's basketball team is a bit more than a week away from opening summer practice, but most of the players will be arriving this weekend.
Nine newcomers were added to first-year coach Ben Johnson's roster for the 2021-22 season, including transfers Jamison Battle, Luke Loewe, E.J. Stephens, Sean Sutherlin, Parker Fox, and Payton Willis, and freshman Treyton Thompson coming to campus Sunday.
The University of Minnesota's summer school session begins on Monday.
"Can't wait to get started," Stephens, a senior guard from Lafayette, said about settling in before the official start of practice on June 14. "We'll be ready to rock n' roll."
As with many of his future teammates, Thompson's looking forward to building an in-person relationship with Johnson and the new Gophers coaching staff. Their interaction has been strictly through video conference calls.
"I'm extremely excited," Thompson, a 6-11 former Alexandria standout, said. "I feel really good about it and confident. I know I'm in really good hands. I'm just ready to get to work."
One of the biggest questions this offseason has been how the Gophers plan to still address their frontcourt depth needs, especially after losing starters Liam Robbins (Vanderbilt) and Brandon Johnson (DePaul) to the transfer portal.
Fox, a 6-8 Division II All-American, is out for up to six months after knee surgery. So, that means Thompson, returning junior forward Isaiah Ihnen and Stephen F. Austin graduate transfer Charlie Daniels are the only post players available.
Thompson, who played his last two seasons at LaLumiere Prep in Indiana, said his goal is to add 10-15 pounds this summer to get more physically prepared for his freshman season.
"Probably like 210 pounds by the time I start playing," he said this week. "To get in the weight room and with the nutritionist will give me what I need."
Thompson and Battle played for the same D1 Minnesota AAU program at different times, but they've played in open gyms with one another during the summer.
The Gophers still have three scholarships remaining for next season. Johnson isn't expected to use all 13 scholarships, but they've been working hard on adding more inside help.
Boston College senior forward Steffon Mitchell, a Shakopee native, is still considering Minnesota, San Diego State and Utah. Mitchell's announcement date is uncertain.
After deciding not to announce last week, Ole Miss transfer Khadim Sy no longer has the Gophers among his finalists. Johnson and his staff, though, are still pursuing a few starting center options for next season, including North Carolina's Sterling Manley and TCU's Kevin Samuel.
Manley, who hasn't ruled out playing professionally, and former Wisconsin center and Lakeville native Nate Reuvers are teammates and among 46 participants in the Tampa Bay Pro Basketball Combine through the weekend.