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It was her friends back in Raleigh, N.C., who created the nickname. Sophie Hart had decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal, going from North Carolina State to join the University of Minnesota women's basketball team.

Hart was packing up, getting ready to leave.

"They came to say goodbye," Hart said. "They were like, 'Soph the Goph. We could call you that.' I kind of told that to my parents as a joke, like, here's the stupid thing my friends said. They were like, 'Oooh, we like that.' And I was like, 'Oh, no.'"

Expect to see the T-shirts after Christmas.

No, seriously. Hart's parents, Tom and Jolene, were thrilled their daughter was coming home. Hart, ranked by ESPN as the No. 64 overall prospect in the 2021 recruiting class out of Farmington High School — and No. 5 among post players — started her career at NCSU, but hadn't played much over a season-plus before deciding to transfer five games into last season.

Hart's family and friends would be able to see Sophie play at Williams Arena. And so far, for every game, they have.

Tom Hart is the girls track and field coach at Farmington. Years ago he started his time there as girls basketball coach; he's been working with his daughter on post moves since she was a child.

For every home game — likely including Wednesday's game against Norfolk State — the family makes the trip north to Williams Arena. More and more, here is what Tom Hart has seen:

"I've watched her start to find her rhythm," he said. "I've seen her adjust to the pace of the game that, in the early games, she was just getting used to. ... It's been great to watch her play like we know she can play."

Hart was able to practice, but not play, with the Gophers last season after the transfer. After deciding to stick around after the coaching change from Lindsay Whalen to Dawn Plitzuweit, Hart was able to work with the team over the summer, including traveling and playing during their European trip. But there is nothing like real game minutes. And, when this season began in early November, Hart hadn't gotten meaningful in-game minutes since high school.

"It feels great," said Hart, the starting center who has had back-to-back career games. "I just trusted the process. I knew all the hard work would eventually pay off. I kept drilling moves, kept focusing on different ways to get better."

Six games into the season, Hart is second on the team in scoring (9.8) and shooting percentage (60.5) and first in total blocks (five).

In the Gophers' opener against Long Island University, in her first NCAA game in 353 days, Hart scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting. But it's been the last two games — against Cal State Northridge and Stony Brook — that she has hit a rhythm.

Hart scored a career-high 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting in just 20 minutes against CSUN. Sunday against Stony Brook, she made her first six shots. She finished 8-for-13 with 17 points and three blocks.

"She has such a high basketball IQ," Plitzuweit said. For example: Hart's adjustment to the physical style Stony Brook played. She established better position as the game went on. When the double teams eventually came, she was able to kick the ball out.

"Her best days are in the future," Plitzuweit said.

So far the lefthanded drop step has been Hart's most consistent weapon. Interesting, considering she's righthanded. But she can counter with her right, and showed a nice turnaround jumper in the lane on Sunday.

But back to that shirt. Tom Hart took the idea and ran with it, at least a little bit to his daughter's dismay. There was talk of superimposing her picture on a Gopher for the shirt, which she nixed. Her dad knows a guy who does shirts for his high school team. They're working on artwork.

Soph the Goph. At this point Tom Hart is only thinking of making shirts for the immediate family.

"I'll start small," he said.

Maybe, though, it will grow.