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2015-16 Big Ten Preview: Minnesota Golden Gopher Wings

Traditionally guard heavy, two athletic newcomers will roam the wing for Minnesota. Let's look at that position group for the Gophers.

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Minnesota, more recently, has looked to upgrade its athleticism on the perimeter.  Doing so will allow them to play more aggressively on defense (switching) and will hopefully add some lineup flexibility.  Most of Minnesota's roster is filled with guards, who'll compete for floor time, and their thin on the wing, but he will have a few more options this season. Occasionally, Pitino will play a three guard lineup, but he has two new options on the wing:  Jordan Murphy and Ahmad Gilbert.

Let's take a look at Minnesota's wing group.

Jordan Murphy, Freshman

Jordan Murphy is a really interesting prospect, and another wing with flexibility.  He can play inside and out, and is an aggressive defender. His defense is what may get him on the floor early. If he competes on that end and can guard multiple positions, Murphy will be quite valuable.

Defensively, Murphy will make an impact. He's aggressive and will crowd people. Physically he's capable of guarding multiple positions, but he could be a terror on the wing. He's also a pretty good shooter, and will command respect out to the three point line. It'll be interesting to see if he can shoot more consistently because he'll

Ahmad Gilbert, Freshman

Gilbert, another freshman, may be a bit more of a work in progress. He has great potential, but he'll need to adapt to the college game.  At 6'6", he has length and athleticism, which is something Minnesota hasn't had on the perimeter recently.

Gilbert's a good shooter, but can be streaky at times. He's really dangerous around the rim, where he can finish in a variety of ways. He, like Murphy, can help on the glass with his length. Gilbert's not as physically imposing as Murphy at this point, but he can make plays.

Carlos Morris, Senior

Morris is listed as a guard, but his size (6'5") means he will get moved to the wing for lengths of time, especially if Kevin Dorsey can play well in the backcourt. He played a bunch last season and averaged double figures (11.1 ppg), and Pitino could move him to the wing more often because of the inexperience and lack of depth with this group.

Dupree McBrayer, Freshman

McBrayer was a late-blooming prospect, but he's someone who has the length to play the wing. He's a natural guard, but again, the group's short on depth and experience; Pitino will explore all options. McBrayer is crafty, and a lefty, but he'll need to add strength to guard larger perimeter defenders. He no doubt will get opportunities, given his talent and upside potential.

Overall

Pitino has youth at the wing, but he does have options. With key guards leaving, and not much depth inside, he may need to press a couple of these newcomers into more expanded roles. This may be the case solely because of their defensive flexibility.

The future of the position is bright. Davonte Fitzgerald, who'll sit out this season, is an athletic transfer from Texas A&M. He's also seasoned, and although coming off an ACL tear, a fresh start will be good for him. Amir Coffey, a super-talented prospect from Minnesota, gave Pitino a verbal commitment for next season. He can play the point, but has good size and might be a program changer.

It'll be interesting to see how the two freshman ease into larger roles. This group will look much different next season, but certainly, Pitino has to be encouraged with the trajectory of the group.