Young faces dot Gophers’ new lineup

The team will have five freshmen who are able to play in the 2014-15 season.

Minnesota forward Joey King shoots the ball in the second half against the Badgers on Saturday, Feb. 21.

Amanda Snyder, Daily File Photo

Minnesota forward Joey King shoots the ball in the second half against the Badgers on Saturday, Feb. 21.

by Ryan Falk

The Gophers basketball team needed a change, coming off a season where they went 6-12 in Big Ten play and missed the NCAA and NIT tournament.
 
Change has arrived in the form of new faces, with five incoming freshmen that can play and two transfers coming in before head coach Richard Pitino’s third season at Minnesota.
 
“[I’m] excited about this team,” Pitino said. “We’re young, but [I] still have very high expectations for the team.”
 
Pitino said many of the newcomers will be expected to contribute right away, including freshman guard Kevin Dorsey, who Pitino said has extreme potential.
 
“He does things on the court where you sit there and go, ‘Wow,’ ” Pitino said.
 
Pitino said Dorsey, who was rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN, will compete with sophomore guard Nate Mason for playing time because of what he brings to the court.
 
“I think physically he’s ready to go,” Pitino said. “He’s light; he’s small, but he doesn’t play like it.” 
 
Dorsey isn’t the only new name the Gophers will put on the court this season.
 
Pitino said he sees 6-foot-6-inch freshman forward Jordan Murphy as a large piece for the Gophers moving forward. 
 
“He’s a guy four years from now you could see being … a face of this program on and off the court,” Pitino said.
 
Murphy will compete for playing time with senior forward Joey King, Pitino said, but the senior is still trying to help the young players succeed so they can contribute as soon as possible.
 
“Even when I graduate, this is a group of guys I’ll be watching from wherever I am in the future,” King said. “[So I want to do] as much as I can do to help progress the program — teach these guys so they’re competitive and they can compete on a daily basis in practice or in games on the court in the future.”
 
The Gophers’ three other freshmen are guards Ahmad Gilbert, Dupree McBrayer and Stephon Sharp. 
 
Local guard Jarvis Johnson is also on campus but was not cleared medically to play.
 
Along with the incoming freshmen come two junior transfers: center Reggie Lynch and forward Davonte Fitzgerald.
 
Although neither will play this year because of NCAA transfer rules, Pitino said he’s excited about what they bring to the table.
 
“Those guys are game-changing-type players,” Pitino said. “They’ll be impact players next year.”
 
As a transfer himself, senior guard Carlos Morris will be counted on to show the new players the ropes.
 
“It’s something I have to do for the young guys,” Morris said.
 
Pitino said he likes the willingness to help both his seniors have shown.
 
“That’s something that when we’re trying to build a brand and build a program is important,” Pitino said.
 
The team already started bonding in the preseason with a trip to Spain this August. There the players, both new and returning, got a chance to learn about this year’s team.
 
“Some of us returners didn’t know [the new players], so it was a great time to bond and just enjoy our time,” King said.