MINNEAPOLIS - Ben Johnson was hired as the new University of Minnesota basketball coach on March 22, and the message from Athletic Director Mark Coyle was clear: More of the top local talent needs to stay home.
Johnson immediately started making contact with the top players in the 2022 class, who are about to be high school seniors and are in the middle of their summer AAU seasons. With the dead period for recruiting ending Tuesday, Johnson is in the middle of his most important week with the Gophers a little more than two months into the job.
High school recruits can start taking unofficial and official visits to schools they’re interested in, and Johnson is reportedly hosting at least five of Minnesota’s top in-state players this week. According to Ryan James with Gopher Illustrated, the group includes Tre Holloman, Braeden Carrington, Ahjany Lee, Demarion Watson-Saulsberry and Camden Heidi. All five will visit campus, and spend time with the Gophers’ coaching staff.
Here’s snapshots of the five:
Tre Holloman is arguably Minnesota’s top player in the 2022 class, and he’s one of Johnson’s top priorities to keep home. Holloman, a 4-star guard at Cretin-Derham Hall, reportedly took an unofficial visit to Minnesota on Tuesday. He averaged 20 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals per game last season, leading the Raiders to the Class AAAA state title game last season. He’s also being pursued by P.J. Fleck for football with the Gophers. Holloman is reportedly taking an official visit to Michigan State later this week, with Tom Izzo showing high interest.
Park Center’s Braeden Carrington, a 6-3 shooting guard, will be on campus this week to visit with Johnson and staff. He’s one of the top shooters in the 2022 class, and led the Pirates with about 19 points per game last season. Carrington is one of Johnson’s top priorities, and if he stays home, could be an immediate impact player for the Gophers as a freshman.
Byron center Ahjany Lee, 6-10 and ranked No. 82 in the country, will be on the Minnesota campus this week. He’s one of the better high school power forwards in the country, helping lead Byron to the state tournament last season.
Minneapolis native Demarion Watson-Saulsberry might be one of the most athletic players in the 2022 class, and he’s a standout in a loaded Totino-Grace program. He’ll be on campus this week to meet with Johnson and staff. He’s a 4-star forward, ranked No. 27 at his position nationally and No. 105 overall.
Camden Heidi is a standout wing at Wayzata, and the 6-6 forward is expected to be on campus either this week or next week. Heidi led the Trojans to a 19-2 record, averaged nearly 20 points per game and led the Trojans to a Class AAAA state title. He’s the No. 23-ranked small forward in the nation, and No. 95 overall prospect. Heidi visited campus last year and met with former coach Richard Pitino and staff. Johnson and his staff have a high interest in Heidi.
Minnesota’s 2022 class might not have the top end talent of a Jalen Suggs, Chet Holmgren or Matthew Hurt, but it’s arguably the deepest in recent history. As many as nine players could end up at high major programs, with more receiving Division I interest.