Minnesota basketball loses its top guard to the transfer portal

Wisconsin basketball isn’t the only program getting hit hard by the transfer portal. The Minnesota Golden Gophers just saw their floor general and team leader Elijah Hawkins enter, in a move that Minnesota writer Tony Liebert calls ‘heavily driven by NIL.’

Hawkins averaged 33.3 minutes, 9.5 points and 7.5 assists for the 2023-24 Gophers. He is the program’s all-time record holder in assists in a game (17), assists in a single season (247) and assists in a postseason game (15). His transfer is tough news in what has otherwise been a positive offseason for head coach Ben Johnson and the Gophers.

Related: An updated list of Wisconsin basketball’s transfer portal targets

Wisconsin fans can draw a bit of a parallel. Three-year starting point guard Chucky Hepburn entered the portal last week after saying he’d return, and after recruiting top transfer wing Frankie Fidler to join the program.

Hawkins has apparently done the same. Just two weeks ago he said “I’m definitely coming back next year.” Now, like Hepburn, he’s in the portal weighing his options.

The current state of college athletics is challenging to grapple with. The worst part are examples like this one: a multi-year starter and program leader reportedly leaving for a big paycheck.

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Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire