Q. How is the Gophers incoming recruiting class ranked compared to others in the conference? Is Lindsay Whalen doing a good job so far in landing players that can get the U to the next level?
A. A good question.
The Gophers officially landed a three-player class that includes guard Alexia Smith of Columbus, Ohio Afrocentric, who was ranked the 46th best player by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz. Post Erin Hedman (New Berlin, Wis. Eisenhower) was ranked 75th. Both are four-star players. The third member of the class is Caroline Strande, who finished her high school career at Racine, Wis. Lutheran as one of the highest-scoring girls basketball players in Wisconsin high school history. She was given three stars by Hoopgurlz, but she is worth watching. I know the Gophers really like her. She’s got size – she’s six foot – and a great shot.
And remember, last season the Gophers landed two players on Big Ten all-freshman teams in guards Jasmine Powell and Sara Scalia. Powell was a four-star player, Scalia a three. I think Strande could be a pleasant surprise.
Hoopgurlz ranked the Gophers’ class 20th in the nation overall, sixth in the Big Ten after Rutgers (eighth), Michigan (15th), Iowa (17th), Ohio State (18th) and Purdue (19th).
But don’t forget Kadi Sissoko -- the 6-2 forward/guard from Paris, France who transferred to Minnesota from Syracuse and sat out last season.
She will be eligible, she should start and could be one of the bigger impact players to come to Minnesota in a while. Sissoko was ranked 10th in the 2018 class, a five-star player who is 6-2 and very athletic.
And then add junior college transfer Daja Woodard, a very athletic 6-3 forward/guard who should be a very strong post defender. And Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, a transfer from Cornell who will add depth in the post.
If you add them to the recruiting class coming in, I think the Gophers might move up a few spots in the conference rankings.
Sissoko should start. I would expect Smith to get significant minutes right off the bat, while both Hedman and Strande will vie for time. Woodward and Bagwell-Katalinich should play a lot, too.
The Gophers have Powell and Scalia back. Gadiva Hubbard will be back for her senior season. That’s three double figure-scoring starters back. The Gophers will be a more athletic and deeper team this season than last. The biggest question will likely be the rotation in the frontcourt.
But the Gophers will be able to play both big and small, it appears.
Q. Is there a timetable for a return to on-camups workouts?
A. It appears there is a tentative one, yes, though on-campus facilities are still closed. The team is expected to come back June 25, where they will then quarantine. Then two things have to happen. The facilities have to be opened. And the NCAA has to approve mandatory workouts, which would allow coaches to be present. If that happens, the team hopes to start workouts July 1.