After posting its worst overall record in school history last year, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team has bounced back this season and earned the No. 5 seed -- the program’s second-highest seed in its history -- in the South Region of the NCAA Division I tournament.
With Big 10 Coach of the Year Richard Pitino at the helm, the Golden Gophers boast seven North Star State natives -- a group that makes up about 25 percent of the total number of Minnesotans (26) participating in the men's tournament this year.
“One constant remains for players from Minnesota: they receive great coaching at the high school level to prepare them for college,” former president of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association and current Hayfield coach Chris Pack said. “The talent of our players continues to elevate and these players continue to be more successful at the national level.”
Howard Pulley just wrapped up one of its best seasons, finishing atop its division and earned the No. 1 seed in several tournaments -- evidence of the state's continually growing talent pool.
“We continue to see an increase in the number of DI basketball players from Minnesota. While our AAU teams continue to be more successful and skills coached are more prevalent,” Pack said. “The hard work these players have put in over the years is showing and they are making Minnesota proud.”
North Dakota, making its first tournament appearance as the No. 15 seed in the West Region, also has five Minnesotans on the roster. Former Park Center player Quinton Hooker leads the team with 19.1 points per game, followed by Geno Crandall (DeLaSalle), who averages 15.6 ppg.
Northwestern also earned its first berth in the tournament and grabbed the No. 8 seed in the West Region with the help from team captain and four-year starter Sanjay Lumpkin, who played for Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
“I would like to wish our Minnesota athletes the best of luck in the NCAA tournament,” Pack said.
--Trevor Squire, SportsEngine
|Brady Rudrud||Minnesota||5||Eden Prairie|
|Michael Hurt||Minnesota||5||Rochester John Marshall|
|Kyle Washington||Cincinnati||6||Brewster Academy|
|Isaiah Zierden||Creighton||6||Benilde-St. Margaret's|
|Sanjay Lumpkin||Northwestern||8||Benilde-St. Margaret's|
|Alex Illikainen||Wisconsin||8||Grand Rapids|
|JP Macura||Xavier||11||Lakeville North|
|Marcus Marshall||Nevada||12||St. Paul Johnson|
|Anders Broman||Winthrop||13||Lakeview Christian|
|Bjorn Broman||Winthrop||13||Lakeview Christian|
|Geno Crandall||North Dakota||15||DeLaSalle|
|Josh Collins||North Dakota||15||DeLaSalle|
|Devon Pekas||North Dakota||15||Hawley|
|Quinton Hooker||North Dakota||15||Park Center|
|Carson Shanks||North Dakota||15||Prior Lake|
|Andre Wallace||South Dakota State||16||Eden Prairie|
|Ian Theisen||South Dakota State||16||Osseo|
|Zach Lofton||Texas Southern||16||Columbia Heights|
Tag(s): Home Featured Hub Exclusives Star Tribune MN Collegiate Players Big 9 Rochester John Marshall Heart O'Lakes Hawley Independent Grand Rapids Lakeview Christian Lake Eden Prairie Edina Hopkins Metro East Mahtomedi Metro West Benilde-St. Margaret's Northwest Suburban Northwest Suburban - West Osseo Park Center St. Paul City St. Paul Johnson South Suburban Eastview Lakeville North Prior Lake Tri-Metro Tri-Metro West DeLaSalle Class AAAA Section 1AAAA Section 2AAAA Section 3AAAA