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Once summer practice opens for college basketball Monday, Gophers coach Ben Johnson will get a good look at an almost entirely new roster entering his fourth year.

Coming off a turnaround, 19-win season and NIT berth, Johnson welcomes eight newcomers to the 2024-25 team, including six transfers.

The Gophers could also be one of the oldest teams in the country with eight scholarship seniors, including the Big Ten's top returning scorer, Dawson Garcia.

"We were able to fill a lot of needs we had," Johnson said. "You're trying to find balance and make your roster as competitive as possible."

With workouts already underway this week, Johnson spoke to the Star Tribune about new pieces from the transfer portal, his potential backcourt situation, having a freshman in NBA mock drafts and more.

Q: What are your thoughts going into summer practice with so many new faces from the portal?

A: We were able to add older guys with a ton of experience. Guys have come from good programs, who were coached well and know how to play. I think that's important. I'm excited to see how we put it together this summer.

Q: How important is having seniors Garcia, Mike Mitchell Jr., and Parker Fox back and familiar with the system?

A: They know how we want to play. They know how I'm going to coach. Being seniors can add that leadership to the new guys until they get caught up. Having guys who understand the verbiage is huge. Understanding how our practices look like and workouts look like can set the tone, especially in these early months.

Q: Any players in mind who could have a breakout summer?

A: Hopefully the second year of the program with Mike can give him confidence, too. Kind of a lot like Dawson last season. Anytime you can go back-to-back years in the same system as a good player brings confidence. We're looking for Mike to have a really good year. Even [sophomore Kadyn Betts] has been with me for two years and has seen it and understands it. I'm expecting him to competitively push guys.

Q: Will your primary point guards be Mitchell, transfer Lu'Cye Patterson and freshman Isaac Asuma?

A: Yes. But then you have Brennan [Rigsby] who is off the ball but can handle it. Caleb [Williams] and Femi [Odukale] can handle it. We've got a lot more ballhandlers. Femi with his size [6-6 and 205 pounds] reminds me of a player I had at Xavier named Naji Marshall [now plays in the NBA]. He's a bigger guard who can play in a big or small lineup. He can play in pick-and-rolls because he's an unselfish passer and has [vision]. We're dynamic at a lot of places. We can put five guys on the court who can dribble, pass, and shoot. We're looking to get back to being an offensive team with skill all over the place.

Q: What do you think about freshman Cam Christie keeping his name in the NBA draft?

A: I think it means a lot. I think it means we identified talent at an early stage and level. We were able to develop that talent. He was able to take the opportunity here and seize it. If he can become a first-round pick I think it would be the first since Kris Humphries in 2004. There's a lot to sell with that. Either way, even if he goes in the second round, we haven't had a ton of those in the history of our program. Anytime you can add NBA-caliber players and sell that in recruiting is good. He's a big reason why we played in the postseason and went to the NIT. We're just really happy and excited for him.

Q: What have your conversations with athletic director Mark Coyle been like this offseason after a 10-win improvement in Year 3?

A: Mark and I obviously talk all of the time and have a great relationship. I'm just really appreciative of his leadership, especially through this new NIL space and through the expansion of the Big Ten. I consume myself with doing the best job he hired me to do. He understands that. He's been very supportive and appreciates the steps we've taken. He knows we've done it the right way. He knows we took the right step last year. I just told him we're just trying to move the needle every day.