Ben Johnson's first summer recruiting as a head coach has been a huge balancing act.
Not only have the Gophers focused heavily on the 2022 class, but they're not done searching for players for this season.
The July evaluation period has seen Johnson and his coaching staff traveling to track prospects across the country. One scholarship remains, though, that could still be used for the 2021-22 team because of injuries.
"We had to reevaluate just because of numbers," Johnson said Tuesday. "You've got to have depth so you can practice and go 5-on-5."
Junior forward Isaiah Ihnen was lost for the season last week when he suffered a torn ACL to his left knee in practice. Northern State (S.D.) transfer Parker Fox has been sidelined since the spring after having major knee surgery.
The Gophers landed Division II Mercyhurst transfer Danny Ogele over the weekend to make up for the latest injury setback, but Ihnen's role will be difficult to fill.
"Since I got the job, he did everything right," Johnson said. "He had worked hard to elevate his game and taken great steps in leadership. He was feeling the most confident he ever felt … He's still a huge part of what we're doing. He's going to be around. But I told our guys we have got to be mentally tough and focus on the guys who are ready to roll."
New Hampshire graduate transfer Sean Sutherlin has been fully cleared for contact in practice, Johnson said Tuesday. The 6-5 Irondale native missed last season with a torn labrum injury, but he averaged nearly 13 points and 9.3 rebounds in 2019-20.
Stephen F. Austin transfer Charlie Daniels and Ogele will be added to the roster this week, which will give the Gophers 12 scholarship players and seven seniors for the coming season.
That means the next freshman class could be one of the U's largest in recent years. The Gophers have offered close to 30 players for 2022, but they are still waiting for Johnson's first commitment.
Division I basketball coaches were allowed to get on the road this summer for in-person recruiting. Most recently, Johnson and assistants Dave Thorson, Marcus Jenkins and Jason Kemp joined their peers recruiting in Georgia, Texas, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Park of Cottage Grove 2022 big man Pharrel Payne said he noticed the Gophers watching his Minnesota Select AAU team play in Sioux Falls, S.D. recently.
Nebraska Supreme forward Jasen Green, who like Payne took an unofficial visit to the U earlier this summer, received an offer from the Gophers on Monday after they watched him in Omaha.
On the same day, Christian Reeves, a 7-footer for Team CP3 in North Carolina, also announced on Twitter he picked up an offer from Minnesota.
The Gophers watched Reeves and others last week in Augusta, Ga., and they'll be back at the Nike Peach Jam Championships this weekend.
"When you walk in the gym now it's different," Johnson said. "I kind of see things through a different lens now, but it's all fun. I've enjoyed it. We've been able to get on the road. We were away for a year, so it's good to see these guys live and face to face."