Stop Purdue's 7-foot-4 Edey? Gophers turn to the 'Green Team.'

Nobody in the Big Ten can truly simulate Purdue's 7-4, 300-pound Zach Edey, but the Gophers men's basketball team has someone on its scout team that comes closer than most.

Jack Wilson is a 6-11, 290-pound former Washington State offensive lineman who transferred to the U for this season. He's been a formidable presence on what Gophers coach Ben Johnson calls the "Green Team," which helps his top players prepare for Big Ten play.

"When you have a scout team like we do of scholarship guys, that only makes the intensity of practice better," Johnson said. "You can simulate it better. They've been doing great taking that on with a sense of pride."

The Gophers (15-8, 6-6 Big Ten) enter Thursday's matchup against Edey and the No. 2-ranked Boilermakers after losing leading scorer Dawson Garcia to injury in a second-half collapse Sunday at Iowa.

Garcia will be a game-time decision in West Lafayette, Ind., so that means members of the Green Team could actually see the floor, especially big men such as Wilson and 6-8 redshirt freshman Kadyn Betts.

"It's definitely a group effort," Wilson said. "Obviously I'm able to simulate things just because of my size that you don't see that often. But being whoever the other team's most elite talent and best all-around player is, Kadyn's doing a really good job of that."

Betts, who sat out last season, usually plays the role of the opposing team's most versatile forward. He simulated Iowa's Payton Sandfort last week. Wilson has mainly battled 6-9, 255-pound sophomore Pharrel Payne to get him ready for opposing centers.

One of the biggest reasons Wilson decided to play for the Gophers was because he thought his size would be needed more against bigger bodies in the Big Ten. He's been looking forward to facing Edey after playing sparingly in road games against Penn State, Michigan State and Iowa.

"In theory, if [Edey] is as strong as everyone says he is, then I don't have to hold back as much," Wilson said. "Even when I do hold back, I foul a lot."

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Other members of the Green Team include freshman Kris Keinys, sophomore Jackson Purcell, senior Will Ramberg and freshman Erick Reader. Graduate assistant Spencer Cody, a former walk-on guard at Xavier, helps to fill a spot in the backcourt. Ramberg and Betts have often led the Green Team in scoring in scrimmages.

"We meet before games and practices to go over the plays of the teams we'll be playing," Betts said. "We try to give the starters and the second team the best look to be ready. On a team like this with so much depth, you have to try to contribute to winning any way you can."

One reason scout team members could see the court Thursday is Purdue's ability to create foul trouble for opponents. The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten and rank second among all high-major programs drawing 20.3 fouls per game this season. That's in large part to having an immovable object like Edey, who is seemingly impossible to keep from establishing deep post position.

Edey had 31 points and 22 rebounds vs. the Gophers at Purdue last season. He was held to 12 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes in a matchup at Williams Arena. Both were Purdue blowouts.

The Gophers have the most depth they've had in years in the frontcourt. Garcia's absence would be a major blow if he can't play Thursday, but Payne, senior Parker Fox, sophomore Joshua Ola-Joseph and junior Isaiah Ihnen are forwards in the main rotation.

"If you look historically at Purdue, they go inside so much that you have to have multiple bigs ready," Johnson said. "You've got to have depth [inside] against Edey and Purdue."

In practice this week, the Gophers have gone with both smaller and bigger lineups to prepare for what they might use against Purdue to bounce back from the Iowa loss. Wilson, the Green Team's version of Edey, is jumping at the opportunity to face the opposing Big Ten center he resembles in girth.

"It's a unique opportunity to test him," Wilson said. "Throw something at him that he hasn't seen before."