Braeden Carrington had just finished having dinner with the Gophers on his official visit Tuesday night when his mind was made: He wanted to stay home to play college basketball.
The Park Center senior guard broke the news to the Gophers' new coach, Ben Johnson, in a text message.
"He was ecstatic," said Carrington, who eventually posted Wednesday afternoon on Twitter and Instagram he was 110% committed. "Weight off his shoulders for all the reporters and stuff saying he couldn't get someone to stay home. Everybody was happy. It was a good night."
The Gophers were long criticized for missing on Minnesota talent under Richard Pitino, who was fired in March after eight seasons. Johnson, a former Gophers player and assistant, was hired in large part to keep so many players from leaving the state.
Carrington had scholarship offers from Florida, Missouri and Seton Hall, but he became the second in-state prospect to commit to the Gophers in the past four classes (joining incoming freshman Treyton Thompson).
"It means everything," Carrington said Wednesday about staying home. "I feel like I'm going to get so much love from people here that it's going to last a lifetime. My mom and my family can come watch me play. It's nice."
Johnson picked up his first commitment in the 2022 class after watching a few in-state players commit elsewhere, including Wayzata's Camden Heide (Purdue), Caledonia's Eli King (Iowa State) and Totino-Grace's Demarion Watson (Iowa State).
Bringing in mostly transfers to replace 10 scholarship players for his first season in 2021-22, Johnson will look to the 2022 class to build the foundation for the Gophers program with seven seniors on the current roster.
As the first local prospect to commit to the Gophers under Johnson out of high school, Carrington hopes to persuade others from Minnesota follow his lead, including Cretin-Derham Hall's Tre Holloman, Park of Cottage Grove's Pharrel Payne and Byron's Ahjany Lee.
"I'm that guy who bought in first and believed first," Carrington said. "It's a rebuild, but I really do believe we can be good in my time here. Hopefully, I can get other players from in-state to try to do it with me."
Following an impressive July live period with Grassroots Sizzle's AAU program, Carrington thought about taking a few official visits, but Johnson and the U staff recruited him the hardest.
"That whole coaching staff showed the same amount of love," Carrington said. "From Ben Johnson to [assistant coaches] Marcus Jenkins, Jason Kemp and [Dave] Thorson, they all showed the same amount of love. That was really the only school that every single coach was texting me, coming to my games."
Carrington said the Gophers coaches even texted his mother, Holly, constantly to show their commitment to her son.
Park Center coach James Ware, a former Gophers director of basketball, watched Carrington blossom from a solid bench contributor as a sophomore to his top prospect as a junior.
Carrington had to recover from a partially dislocated tendon on his right wrist, but he still averaged 18 points for Park Center last season, which included four 30-point performances.
Not just a three-point shooting specialist, Carrington made strides with his ability to attack the basket and facilitate off ball screens. He takes pride in his defense.
"He continues to make jumps," Ware said. "I just think the kid has a super-high ceiling. He's 6-4 and almost 6-5. He's still growing. I think Minnesota is getting a steal. He's a guy who can play multiple positions. He can play anywhere on the floor. He's never conflicted on what the right basketball play is. It starts with him being so unselfish."