Gophers women’s basketball adds Bailey Helgren as graduate transfer

Former Kansas post player and Edina native Bailey Helgren will be playing for Minnesota next season, the school announced Saturday.

Coach Lindsay Whalen watches a play intently at the Gopher women's basketball practice on Monday, Oct. 9, 2018 in the Cunningham Basketball Performance Center.

Tony Saunders

Coach Lindsay Whalen watches a play intently at the Gopher women’s basketball practice on Monday, Oct. 9, 2018 in the Cunningham Basketball Performance Center.

Tony Liebert, Sports Reporter

Gophers women’s basketball head coach Lindsay Whalen announced Saturday that 6-foot-5-inch post player Bailey Helgren will be playing her final collegiate season for Minnesota after playing four seasons with Kansas.

Helgren, an Edina, Minnesota, native, played in 95 games throughout her four seasons with the Jayhawks. She averaged 2.6 points and 4.7 rebounds on 53.6% shooting in 21.1 minutes of action, with 72 starts. She appeared in the first seven contests of the 2020-21 campaign before opting out of the remainder of the season.

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come play at home,” Helgren said in a statement. “Growing up I was always a fan of the Gophers, so it’s surreal to finish my career out playing for Coach Whalen and her staff. The people within the program make it special. I can’t wait to get on campus this summer.”

Earlier this week, seniors Gadiva Hubbard and Laura Bagwell-Katalinich both announced their plans to return for an additional season. The move meant the Gophers will now return their entire roster from a season ago. Helgren will join a frontcourt that has a surplus of talent led by Kayla Mershon, Klarke Sconiers and Grace Cumming. Her addition will provide a young Minnesota team with another veteran presence in the locker room.

“We are thrilled to bring Bailey back home to our Minnesota women’s basketball family,” Whalen said in a statement. “Joining us as a graduate transfer, she will bring immediate experience and size to our roster. She is not only a great presence in the paint at 6-foot-5, but she will be a great fit for our culture and growth of the program. We are looking forward to her joining us this summer.”

The Gophers 2021-22 schedule has yet to be finalized, although they’re scheduled to compete in the first-ever Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis. The early-season tournament will take place Nov. 20-22 with some of the top programs in the country.