Two players added to thin Gophers playing roster

Junior college players Vincent Grier and J’son Stamper signed Friday.

Adam Fink

After losing three players since the end of the season – and four since January – Minnesota’s men’s basketball team got some good news Friday as it began formalizing its roster for next season.

The Gophers announced two junior college athletes – Vincent Grier and J’son Stamper – signed with the team and will be eligible to play this fall. They will begin with junior status.

This is a welcomed sight considering Minnesota returns only four players who saw playing time last season.

The team lost two starters (Kris Humphries announced he will go to the NBA and Stan Gaines plans to transfer), a center who was expected to see an increased role next season (Aliou Kane) and an athletic slashing guard in Moe Hargrow (who transferred to Arkansas last January).

However, the two newest Gophers are expected to bring the athleticism lost by Hargrow and Gaines.

Grier, a 6-foot-5-inch guard from Dixie State Junior College in Utah, averaged 17.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

He was named to the Region 18 All-Region team and was an All-Scenic Western Athletic Conference selection. Grier began his collegiate career at UNC-Charlotte where he averaged 5.2 points and 3.4 rebounds his freshman year.

“(He) has the athletic ability and skills that will allow him to play multiple positions and will give our team versatility next season,” said Gophers coach Dan Monson in a release. “He’s a defensive stopper and an athletic slasher on the offensive end.”

Minnesota’s other recruit is physically similar to Gaines, who announced last week he was leaving the program.

Stamper, a 6-foot-6-inch forward from Independence Community College in Kansas, averaged 13.7 points per game last season and was the fourth-leading junior college rebounder in the country with 11.5 boards per game.

A native of Bronx, N.Y., he was a first team all-conference selection and co-MVP of the Jayhawk East Conference, and he was named first team All-Region VI.

“(He) does all the intangible things to make a team better,” Monson said. “He provides toughness and intensity every time he steps on a basketball floor. His physical presence fills a need for this basketball team.”

Monson’s recruiting isn’t over yet for the season. With three incoming freshmen, seven returning players (including three redshirts) and the two junior college transfers, the Gophers roster has only 12 players currently.

Although the Gophers are limited on scholarships, they will need more size inside to compete next season.

The only center on the roster is seven-footer Jeff Hagen. Recruit Spencer Tollackson (6-foot-9-inch forward); redshirt freshmen Kerry Wooldridge (6-foot-8-inch forward) and Dan Coleman (6-foot-9-inch forward) will also be asked to play in the post. Both Wooldridge and Coleman, however, are lanky and will need to add muscle.