Dawson Garcia returning to Gophers for final season

Dawson Garcia had a career-high 36 points in Minnesota's 84-74 loss at Ohio State on Sunday. (Brad Rempel/University of Minnesota Athletics)

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team will have its leading scorer and rebounder back for one more season.

Team officials announced Thursday that Prior Lake native Dawson Garcia is returning for one more season with the Gophers. He confirmed the news through Garcia’s agent for name, image and likeness. Garcia led Minnesota in scoring (17.6) and rebounding (6.7) last season as the Gophers finished 19-15, 9-11 in Big Ten play and won a first round NIT game at Butler.

"I take extreme pride and gratitude in wearing ‘Minnesota' across my chest," Garcia said in a statement. "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to run it back one last time and represent this state. Let's make it a special year Gopher nation!"

Garcia played one season at Marquette, his second at North Carolina and has played the last two years with the Gophers. 

Since Minnesota’s season ended, Ben Johnson has lost Pharrel Payne, Braeden Carrington, Isaiah Ihnen and Kris Keinys to the NCAA transfer portal. Elijah Hawkins said after the Big Ten Tournament he was coming back for next season. The Gophers also expect to have Mike Mitchell Jr. back.

The next most important domino to fall is guard Cam Christie, who could transfer, return or declare for the NBA Draft. Some mocks have Christie a late first round pick.

The Gophers are also waiting on a decision from Parker Fox, who has one more year of eligibility left. Minnesota’s 19 wins this season are the most under Johnson, and his nine Big Ten wins are more than his first two seasons combined.