There are plenty of teams in the Big Ten with questions, but Minnesota might be the team with the most. Coming off of a 18-15 (6-12 in conference) season, the Gophers have lost three of their best players to graduation in Andre Hollins, Maurice Walker and DeAndre Mathieu. If Minnesota expects to be competitive in the conference this season, it will need some performances from new faces.
Which is why it’s convenient the Gophers have a host of new freshmen on campus this season. Coach Richard Pitino put together a deep recruiting class, and while a few transfers won’t be eligible to aaly until next season, he still has a good amount of young talent at his disposal. While all of Minnesota newcomers will probably get time next season, let’s look at which one will contribute the most.
The Gophers need a new point guard with Mathieu graduating, and Dorsey should be able to help right away. A 6’0", 170-pound floor general from Virginia, Dorsey is a classic pass-first point guard who should step into the starting lineup right away. Not only is he a capable passer and ball-handler, the 4-star recruit brings speed and quickness, not to mention defense to the position. Pitino has said that Dorsey will need to work on his shooting, but that’s not unusual for a point guard of his age. He should form a good (yet undersized) tandem with sophomore shooting guard Nate Mason, and the two of them will both be looked at as building blocks for the Gophers. While transitioning to the Big Ten might not be easier, expect Dorsey to be a key player in 2015-’16.
The other new Gopher with the best chance to start, Murphy is an athletic 6’"6, 230-pound forward from Texas. Although he’s built more like a small forward, it looks like Pitino is planning on using him as more of a small ball four in his lineup. With the Gophers likely playing a three-guard lineup with Carlos Morris at the three, putting at Murphy at the four would mean either shifting power forward Joey King to the five or bringing him off the bench if Pitino wants to use a natural center like sophomore Bakary Konate. Obviously the lineup is far from decided, but Murphy should play a lot regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench. The 3-star recruit can defend multiple positions, rebound and score around the basket.
A 6’"4, 175-pound recruit from New York, McBrayer is a guard with the skills to play either backcourt position. Pitino has compared him to Carlos Martinez, which certainly isn’t a bad thing since Martinez finished third on the team in scoring at 11.1 points a game last season. Although McBrayer doesn’t have a realistic chance of starting, he has a good chance to get quality minutes next season. Minnesota’s guards after Mason are largely unproven, and McBrayer is smart, talented player who’s versatility will benefit him.
Another new wing recruit, Gilbert is a Philadelphia product who brings more length and shooting to the Gopher’s lineup. While he’s still a little raw, at 6’6" and 210 pounds he brings size to a very small Gophers backcourt. He’s another guy who will have to carve out a role for himself, but Gilbert should get a chance early in the season to show what he can do.
Sharp is a walk-on guard from Minneapolis. He isn’t expected to have a big role next season.
Each one of the Gophers new recruits should get plenty of minutes next season, but it’s hard not to pick Dorsey as the impact newcomer. Although Murphy may start as well, Dorsey should help stabilize a position of need for Minnesota. He’s the safe choice to be the newcomer with the most impact on Minnesota next season.