Gophers forward Josh Ola-Joseph enters NCAA transfer portal

Gophers sophomore forward Josh Ola-Joseph has entered the NCAA transfer portal and his pending exit will open up a scholarship spot on the U roster for next season.

The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native is the first player from the 2023-24 roster to announce he will leave after Minnesota’s season ended Sunday in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. Ola-Joseph told On3 his intentions on Wednesday; a Pioneer Press source confirmed he has entered the portal.

Ola-Joseph started 42 consecutive games for Minnesota from his freshman year into this season, but he saw his playing time significantly dry up starting in late January. The athletic small forward averaged 7.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 29 games this past season.

Head coach Ben Johnson said at midseason that he was asking Ola-Joseph and fellow little-used forward Isaiah Ihnen to stay patient and figured they would be called on at some point down the stretch. That time never came for Ola-Joseph, who didn’t play more than eight minutes in a game over the final two months of the season. He also dealt with a concussion in March, Johnson said.

Johnson shared in early March that Ola-Joseph’s lack of playing time was a combination of matchups with opponents and the U’s roster depth at forward.

“It’s hard when Parker, and Dawson (Garcia) at that (power forward) spot are playing well,” Johnson said. “We’ve looked at (Ola-Joseph) as playing (there), so when those guys are rolling, you have to make a decision as a coach on what you want to do. It’s a numbers game. That’s it more than anything.”

With Ola-Joseph’s exit, the U has one vacant scholarship spot going into next season.

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