Braeden Carrington won't be playing for the Gophers yet when he steps foot on the Williams Arena court for the first time this week.
The Barn will be home soon enough, but this Park Center senior guard's first game on the raised floor will be in the Minnesota Class 4A semifinals Thursday against Eastview.
The 6-4 Gophers recruit had 16 points and eight assists in Tuesday's 74-60 win for the top-seeded Pirates against Andover at Target Center.
"I want to get there as fast as possible," Carrington said about joining the Gophers. "This is the closest I'm going to get for the next three or so months. It's going to be a fun experience for sure."
Gophers coach Ben Johnson was in attendance Tuesday morning to watch the first recruit to commit to his program. Carrington kicked started a solid 2022 recruiting class that includes fellow Minnesotans Pharrel Payne and Joshua Ola-Joseph and California native Jaden Henley.
Johnson reached out to Carrington before the state tournament and wished him good luck.
"He supports me a lot," Carrington said. "Watching their games, I'm really excited to be there next year. The style of play they have. He loves shooters. And I'm a shooter, so I'll love playing there."
After battling injuries his junior year, Carrington led Park Center in scoring with 18 points on 50% shooting from the field, to go along with averaging six rebounds, three assists, and nearly three steals.
The Pirates and coach James Ware fell to Champlin Park in the Section 5, Class 4A final last season, but Carrington said that motivated them to earn a state tourney berth and make a title run this year.
"It's been a goal since we lost the section championship last year," he said. "We got in the gym day after and we've been working. We got a few new guys. We just been building chemistry throughout the season. We could feel it. We knew we were going to make it to state. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. But we knew we'd get the job done."
Park Center's only blemish so far this season falling 64-61 on Jan. 21 at Totino-Grace, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A. But the Pirates avenged that earlier loss with an 87-57 shellacking at home against the Eagles on Feb. 18 behind Carrington's 23 points.
"For our whole team the loss honestly helped us," Carrington said. "If we came into state undefeated we would've been relaxed as the top dog. But after we lost that game, we were just hungry not to let that happen again."
Eastview defeated Eden Prairie 67-51 on Tuesday night in the second quarterfinal matchup at Target Center. The winner of Thursday's semifinals will meet for the Class 4A championship at 8 p.m. Saturday at Williams Arena.
Park Center crushed Andover 37-15 in rebounding margin Tuesday, but Ware hopes his team shoots better than 2-for-13 from three-point range moving forward, especially Carrington.
"Braeden better shoot well at Williams," Ware joked. "That's where he's going to be playing next year. He better get used to it."