Five-star recruit Dennis Evans meets with Gophers again;  decision expected Monday

Five-star recruit Dennis Evans meets with Gophers again; decision expected Monday

Gophers basketball coach Ben Johnson and assistant Marcus Jenkins visited five-star California center Dennis Evans on Thursday to give their final pitch before he makes his decision.

The 7-1 senior at Riverside Hillcrest is expected to announce his college choice early Monday between the Gophers and Texas Christian.

Evans also met with TCU coach Jamie Dixon and his assistant on Thursday, but signs point toward the Gophers being the favorite. Not only was Minnesota his last official visit earlier this month, but his former AAU teammate Jaden Henley is a Gophers freshman wing.

Johnson’s sales pitch since offering Evans in the spring also centered on the shot-blocking sensation being one of the key pieces to making the Gophers a Big Ten contender. They finished last in the conference last season.

“I know some really good players have come out of there,” Evans told the Star Tribune recently about the Big Ten. “Being able to play in an arena like [the Barn] would be a huge honor. It would be a lot of fun to do it.”

Evans would be the highest-rated incoming U recruit since Kris Humphries in 2003. The Gophers haven’t had an incoming recruit rated higher from out of a state since the 1980s. Evans ranks 13th nationally in the 2023 class by Rivals.com, 27th by 247Sports.com and 28th by PrepHoops.com.

The Gophers opened their 2023 recruiting class with four-star Colorado forward Kaden Betts, but he reclassified to join the team this season. Johnson’s lone senior commitment currently is four-star Illinois guard Cameron Christie, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Max Christie from Michigan State.

Last week, Evans traveled to Colorado Springs to participate in the USA men’s junior national team minicamp. He was rated as one of the top performers Sunday among 58 athletes invited from the 2023-26 classes.

Evans’ first taste of international experience came this summer playing on Team USA’s U17 World Cup team that won a gold medal in Spain.

At Hillcrest last season, Evans showed massive improvement by averaging 11 points, 10 rebounds, and seven blocks per game. His five games with 10 or more blocks, included a 16-block effort tied for fifth most in a game in the history of California high school basketball.

What Evans can bring the Gophers as a game-changing defensive presence is clear, but Johnson had to convince one of the nation’s top prospects why the program was the best fit for him.

“We talked about the coaching,” Evans’ AAU coach Elvert “Kool-Aid” Perry said. “We talked about the environment, playing time and all of that. All of that comes into play. It’s not about NIL. He’s a kid that looks at things differently.”

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