While many of their counterparts spent the fall preparing for hoops, Gophers basketball recruits Isaac Asuma and Grayson Grove played football and soccer, respectively.
Asuma was a star running back and receiver on a Cherry, Minn., team that finished runner-up for the Nine-Man Section 7 title. Grove, who recovered from summer ankle surgery, was a goalkeeper on Alexandria's team that lost in the Class 2A, Section 8 semifinals.
"It's now basketball time for us," said Asuma, who made his Gophers official visit with Grove last month.
As they turn their full attention to the hardcourt, Asuma and Grove plan to sign letters of intent with Ben Johnson's Gophers on Wednesday morning to open the early national signing period.
The Gophers will sign at least two Minnesota natives for the second time in three recruiting classes under Johnson, including the 2022 class with Pharrel Payne, Joshua Ola-Joseph and Braeden Carrington.
"We're both really excited for it," Asuma said. "On our official [visit] together we were saying we can't wait to get here. It's going to be a fun experience. It's going to be something good for both of us."
Asuma, a three-star 6-3 guard, committed to the Gophers in March after receiving scholarship offers from Iowa State, Xavier, Butler and Iowa. The No. 3 senior in the state and No. 121 player nationally by 247Sports is an elite passer and strong finisher with his near college-ready frame and athleticism.
The 6-9, 230-pound Grove is much more of an under-the-radar talent with no national ranking (No. 8 in Minnesota). After leading Alexandria to the state tournament, the three-star forward was offered by Colorado State and North Dakota State, but he was playing despite a torn ligament in his left ankle at the end of the season.
The Gophers saw something in his ability to stretch the floor and be a rim protector, so they offered in the spring. He announced his commitment in May before shutting down his last AAU season for surgery.
"It shows that they truly see a vision for me in their program," Grove said. "For a while they didn't see me play my best basketball with my injury. And it just really meant a lot and helped us build a stronger relationship."
Grove, who played with Asuma in D1 Minnesota's AAU program, is 100% healthy for the first time since the middle of his junior season. "I can already tell a lot of my bounce is coming back," he said. "I have to keep getting stronger. I've [gained 30 pounds of muscle] this summer to help me in the post. But I want to be an inside and outside threat."