Power forward Kris Humphries was thought to be the cornerstone of the Gopher basketball team. He was ... for exactly one season.
He then opted for a lucrative NBA and was rewarded by the Utah Jazz as the No. 15 pick in the NBA draft.
While Dan Monson probably will think about what might have been for the next few years, he can't let those thoughts dominate his mind. He has plans to hit the recruiting trail hard to build up on signings from the high school class of 2005, and he hopes that some of the freshmen who are coming to campus this year have the goods to get the program going in the right direction.
Vincent Grier and J'Son Stamper will be eligible to begin play for the Golden Gophers this season. Grier, a 6-5 guard from Dixie State Junior College in Utah, averaged 17.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game last season. Grier began his collegiate career at UNC-Charlotte where he averaged 5.2 points and 3.4 rebounds his freshman year. Coming out of high school, Grier was ranked as one of the top-100 high school seniors in the nation by multiple recruiting services.
"Vincent Grier has the athletic ability and skills that will allow him to play multiple positions and will give our team versatility next season," said Monson. "He's a defensive stopper and an athletic slasher on the offensive end."
Stamper, a 6-6 forward from Independence (Kan.) Community College, averaged 13.7 points, shot .522 from the field, and was the fourth-leading junior college rebounder in the country with 11.5 rebounds per game last season. Stamper is a native of the Bronx.
For his career at ICC, Stamper averaged 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
"J'Son Stamper does all the intangible things to make a team better," said Monson. "He provides toughness and intensity every time he steps on a basketball floor. His physical presence fills a need for this basketball team."
Both players will have junior eligibility in the fall.
Monson is hoping that Grier and Stampler can make contributions on the defensive end. Minnesota finished last in the Big Ten in points allowed at 71.7 ppg.
The one thing the Gophers did well during the 2003-04 season was fill it up. They scored 70.1 ppg — good for fourth in the Big Ten.
Monson clearly wants to improve his defense next season, but he was counting on having an explosive offense once again. The key to that unit would have been Humphries.
Monson believes Humphries is a finished product who has the tools to make it in the NBA.
"I've never seen a kid as physically ready to rebound the basketball and finish around the basket and go outside," Monson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"I can't thank him enough," Monson added. "People will say, 'What if he would've stayed for four years?' But wouldn't it have been awful not to have him with the way he's been on and off the court?"
Monson brought in former Bradley head coach Jim Molinari to help get the team prepared for the 2004-05 season. Molinari was hired as the new assistant coach after Mike Peterson left to become the head coach of the Wake Forest women's team.
Molinari's Bradley teams were noted for their hard-nosed defense, so he could have an impact right away for the Gophers. Molinari had a 176-150 (.540) record at Bradley and guided his team to the postseason six times — five NIT appearances and a trip to the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
From 1989-1991, he was the head coach at Northern Illinois University, where he posted a record of 42-17 and won the 1991 Mid-Continent Conference title. His 13-year head coaching record stands at 218-167 (.566). Most recently he served as a scout for the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors.
"I'm feel extremely fortunate to have Coach Molinari join our staff," said Monson. "He brings a wealth of experience as a recruiter and a coach, especially on the defensive end of the floor."
PROGRAM OVERVIEW: Guard Adam Boone, forward Stan Gaines and center Jeff Hagen will form the team's nucleus. All three bring athleticism and desire to the table. Head coach Dan Monson brought in two junior college players in Vincent Grier and J'Son Stampler to help solidify the team. The biggest news may be the addition of tough-minded assistant coach Jim Molinari. The former Bradley coach is known for his ability to teach defensive play and that's just what he will be asked to do at Minnesota
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The '06 class is as deep and as good of a year for in-state players as any year since I've been here. That's a very high priority. We're going to spend a lot of time on the '06 class." — Head coach Dan Monson, to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, on his plans as he prepared for the summer recruiting period.
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