See more of the story

Another Minnesotan is coming home to play for the Gophers women's basketball team.

This time: Former Hopkins star forward Taylor Woodson has decided to play for Gophers coach Dawn Plitzuweit after spending her freshman season at Michigan and entering the NCAA transfer portal.

Woodson, a 6-0 power forward who hits the boards hard, defends with tenacity and is a three-level scorer, is a former high school teammate of current Gophers point guard Amaya Battle. At Hopkins, they won two 4A state titles together.

A member of Hopkins varsity since seventh grade, Woodson was a part of state title teams there in 2019 and 2022.

"Taylor is a great addition to our program," Plitzuweit said in a news release. "She is an athletic perimeter player who has the ability to impact the game in many ways. She pushes the ball up the floor, she gets to the rim and creates shots either for herself or for her teammates. She moves well without the ball, and she defends and rebounds at a high level."

The beginning of Woodson's senior season at Hopkins was slowed by an ankle injury. But both she and Hopkins finished strong, reaching the 4A title game for the fourth time in her prep career and averaging 18.7 points per game for the season.

Ranked 59th in the nation in the 2023 recruiting class by ESPN, Woodson chose Michigan, where she averaged 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.9 minutes of playing time there last season.

She joins former Wayzata star post Annika Stewart, who announced her intention to transfer from Nebraska to the Gophers for her final year of eligibility last week.

Reserves Ayianna Johnson and Ajok Madol already had entered the transfer portal. They were joined Thursday by forward McKynnlie Dalan, a 6-1 forward who just completed her freshman season, averaging 0.3 points and 0.7 rebounds and 2.9 minutes while appearing in 15 games.

Woodson is a significant addition for the Gophers, who overcame injuries to reach the championship game of the WNIT this spring and continue to build a very Minnesota-centric roster.

This past season four of the five starters were from Minnesota in Mara Braun, Battle, Mallory Heyer and Sophie Hart. Minnesotan's Nia Holloway and Maggie Czinano came off the bench. Next year Kennedy Klick (Maple Grove High School) will be back from a knee injury sustained last summer.

It is also a much deeper team. The youngest team in the Big Ten last season, the Gophers return every starter – the fifth is Grace Grocholski from Wisconsin – all five of whom were ranked in the top 100 in their recruiting class by ESPN: Braun (28), Battle (39) and Heyer (55) in the 2022 class, Hart (64) in 2021, Grocholski (98) last year.

Then there is the incoming class of guards Tori McKinney (Minnetonka), and McKenna Johnson, a high-scoring guard from Wilmot, Wis., who actually graduated early and joined the Gophers midseason, though she did not play.

McKinney comes to the Gophers with strong defensive credentials, being named the state's defensive player of the year the past two seasons by Prep Girls Hoops. Johnson, who averaged 26.1 points and 10 rebounds in her last full high school season, was ranked 63rd in the 2024 class by ESPN. Stewart will add much-needed depth in the post.

Woodson, considering her familiarity with much of the team either through high school basketball or AAU play, should fit in quickly.