Prized Gophers recruit Dennis Evans requests release from Minnesota NLI

California high school basketball star and 5-star center Dennis Evans announced his verbal commitment to Ben Johnson and the Gophers on Monday.

The highest-rated recruit for the Gophers men’s basketball team in nearly two decades is no longer coming to the University of Minnesota.

FOX 9 has confirmed that 7-1 center Dennis Evans, a consensus four-star recruit and a five-star player by some recruiting services, has asked Ben Johnson and the program to be released from his National Letter of Intent.

Evans, one of the top centers in the country, gave a verbal commitment to play for the Gophers and Johnson last October.

After fielding offers from across the country and having a final two of the Gophers and TCU, Evans signed a letter of intent in November to play on scholarship at Minnesota next season. Evans at the time was the No. 31-ranked player nationally. 

He was the highest-rated recruit since Hopkins star Kris Humphries in 2003. But things have changed, as the Gophers are on an 11-game losing streak in Big Ten play. They’re 7-19 on the season, and just 1-15 in Big Ten play after an 88-70 loss at Maryland on Wednesday night. 

While it’s not uncommon for recruits to get released from a scholarship after a coach has been fired, this instance is rare.

One of Evans’ closest friends is current Minnesota freshman Jaden Henley, who played a big part in Evans picking the Gophers. Henley has played in all 26 games and made 13 starts, averaging 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

The Gophers are at Nebraska Saturday afternoon. The team has not made any public comment on Evans as of this writing.