Gophers men's basketball roster: Who starts? How’s the depth?

Gophers coach Ben Johnson hopes his deepest and healthiest roster going into a season will result in this year's basketball team becoming more competitive in the Big Ten.

After a 9-22 record and last-place conference finish, the Gophers are hungry to prove they are far from the worst team in the league. Preseason All-Big Ten forward Dawson Garcia returns after leading the team in scoring and rebounding in 2022-23.

Johnson also has three returning sophomores who played 20-plus minutes during their first year with the program, including projected starting center Pharrel Payne. The U's newcomers add depth at key positions, especially in the backcourt.

Here's a look at the roster for the Gophers, who play Macalester in an exhibition game Thursday before opening the regular season Nov. 6 vs. Bethune-Cookman, also at Williams Arena.

Predicted starters

Elijah Hawkins, 5-11, junior (Washington, D.C.)

Led Howard to its first NCAA tournament berth in 31 years while averaging 12.9 points and six assists and shooting 46.6% from three last season to earn all-league first-team honors.

Mike Mitchell Jr., 6-2, junior (San Jose, Calif.)

Pepperdine transfer started all 63 games for two years. He averaged 11.4 points and five assists and shot 44% from three-point range in 2022-23.

Joshua Ola-Joseph, 6-7, sophomore (Brooklyn Park)

Transitioning to small forward after starting 24 games last season at power forward. Averaged 7.4 points, shot a team-best 38.1% from three and ranked second with 21 dunks.

Dawson Garcia, 6-11, junior (Savage)

After missing five games with a foot injury, he averaged 17.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 41.7% shooting from three during a late seven-game stretch.

Pharrel Payne, 6-9, sophomore (Cottage Grove)

Could have breakout year. Led Gophers in blocks (32) and ranked second in field-goal percentage (69.3) as a freshman last season. He scored in double figures in six of his final 10 games.

Gophers basketball scheduleNext group

Kadyn Betts, 6-8, freshman (Pueblo, Colo.)

Former four-star recruit redshirted after graduating from high school early. He gained 30 pounds since arriving and has a 7-foot wingspan.

Braeden Carrington, 6-4, sophomore (Brooklyn Park)

Ex-Minnesota Mr. Basketball missed eight games because of injuries, but he shot 8-for-15 from three in his last four games, including four threes vs. Maryland in the Big Ten tournament.

Cam Christie, 6-6, freshman (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

Gophers' top recruit could push for starting backcourt role. He averaged 25 points, five rebounds and four assists, shot 88% on free throws and hit 101 threes.

Parker Fox, 6-8, senior (Mahtomedi)

Former Division II All-America player suffered ACL and meniscus injuries to his left and right knees in back-to-back seasons but is healthy and ready to help in frontcourt.

Isaiah Ihnen, 6-9, junior (Boeblingen, Germany)

Lengthy and versatile wing, Ihnen is the only player left from the Richard Pitino era. Last played in 2021 before being sidelined by consecutive knee injuries.

Kris Keinys, 6-8, freshman (Klaipeda, Lithuania)

Averaged 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in Lithuania's National Basketball League last season. Joined the Gophers after summer practice.

Jack Wilson, 6-11, senior (Montara, Calif.)

Former Washington State offensive lineman and center played both football and basketball last season. Started career playing hoops at Oregon State and Idaho. Will be backup center.


Jackson Purcell, 6-5, sophomore (Apple Valley)

Former Eastview player was placed on scholarship for the 2023-24 season after playing in one game last season. Redshirted in 2021-22.

Will Ramberg, 6-5, senior (Grand Marais, Minn.)

While on scholarship last season, he averaged 2.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.6 minutes in 16 games. Back to walk-on status.

Erick Reader, 6-8, freshman (Bloomington)

The walk-on forward averaged 14.7 points and 12.6 rebounds for New Life Academy, runner-up in Minnesota's Class 1A last season.