Gophers add depth to 2020-21 roster with grad transfer

Laura Bagwell-Katalinich brings experience, but questions about starting lineup still remain.

Head coach Lindsay Whalen reacts to a scored point at Williams Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The Gophers fell to Missouri State 69-77.

Liam Armstrong

Head coach Lindsay Whalen reacts to a scored point at Williams Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The Gophers fell to Missouri State 69-77.

Brendan O'Brien

With the 2019-20 season over and four seniors departing from Minnesota, the Gophers women’s basketball team added some depth to next season’s roster.

The Gophers and head coach Lindsay Whalen announced forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich will join the program as a graduate transfer next season. Bagwell-Katalinich played two seasons at Cornell, averaging 14.8 points while shooting 45.9 percent from the floor.

Bagwell-Katalinich is already a familiar name and face around the state. She is a Minneapolis native who led Academy of Holy Angels to a Class AAA State Championship and was also a nominee in her senior season for McDonald’s All-American and Minnesota Miss Basketball. She joins guard Sara Scalia as the only other player from Minnesota on the roster.

Whalen said it is difficult to speculate what the starting lineup and rotations will look this far in advance of next season. The Gophers do return three starters from last season’s squad, but two of them are still only sophomore guards — Jasmine Powell and Scalia. Forward Kadi Sissoko is also expected to have a significant impact on next season’s team, but she sat out all of last season after transferring from Syracuse. Because of this, Whalen said it is nice to add a player like Bagwell-Katalinich who brings confidence and maturity from playing many college games.

With Taiye Bello gone, the Gophers have a significant void to fill on the glass. Bello finished last season with the most rebounds in the Big Ten and averaged 9.8 per game, but Minnesota only finished 10th in the conference in rebounds per game. Whalen hopes Bagwell-Katalinich will be able to help in this area. She led Cornell with seven rebounds per game last season and averaged 7.5 per game in two seasons.

Minnesota will be the third school Bagwell-Katalinich has played for in the last five years. She started her collegiate career at Penn in 2016-17, playing in only three games before transferring to Cornell.