Amir Coffey staying in NBA Draft, won't return to Gophers

Amir Coffey has put on his University of Minnesota No. 5 jersey for the final time.

Coffey's agent, Javon Phillips of Excel Sports Management, said Wednesday afternoon the standout guard is staying in the NBA Draft process and forgoing his final year of eligibility with the Gophers. He declared for the NBA Draft on April 4, and had until 11 p.m. Wednesday to make the final decision.

The Hopkins native led the Gophers (22-14) in scoring at 16.6 points per game as Minnesota reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. He scored at least 30 points in three games last season and was named Third Team All-Big Ten at the end of the season.

Coffey scored 32 points on a Senior Night win over Purdue that essentially made the Gophers a lock for the NCAA Tournament. He scored 18 points in Minnesota’s first-round victory over Louisville in Des Moines, Iowa.

Two seasons ago, Coffey was named to the All-Freshman Team and was poised for a big sophomore year before suffering a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.

After declaring for the draft, Coffey hired an agent certified by the NCAA to help him through the scouting process. He went through the NBA’s G-League Combine and worked out for several NBA teams, but was not invited to the NBA Combine, which featured several top draft prospects.

The Gophers will now have to replace their top two scorers from last season. Top five career scorer and rebounder Jordan Murphy graduated, as did Dupree McBrayer, Brock Stull and Matz Stockman. Minnesota's starting lineup will likely include Daniel Oturu, Gabe Kalscheur and Marcus Carr. Other returners include Eric Curry, who won't be medically cleared to play until the fall, Jarvis Omersa and Michael Hurt.

The Gophers also have a slew of new incoming talent in freshmen Tre Williams, Sam Freeman Isaiah Ihnen and grad transfer Alihan Demir as Richard Pitino embarks on his seventh season as coach at Minnesota.

Minnesota has not had a player selected in the NBA Draft since Kris Humphries in 2004. Coffey is projected as high as a late second round pick, but most projections have him not being chosen in the NBA Draft. If he isn't drafted, he could pursue a two-way contract with an NBA team or start a professional career overseas.