NCAA grants Gophers newcomer Dawson Garcia a waiver to play this season
Former Prior Lake star and North Carolina transfer Dawson Garcia got his NCAA waiver on Friday for immediate eligibility to play for the Gophers men’s basketball team this season.
Garcia, 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, was a former McDonald’s All-American who returned home to Minnesota last year to support his family as they battled COVID-19.
“We are obviously very happy to have Dawson on the court this season,” Gophers coach Ben Johnson said in a statement. “Dawson is an experienced competitor who will have an immediate impact on the court. We look forward to building on what he has accomplished this summer in the season.”
Garcia averaged 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and shot 37.5 percent from three-point range in 16 games for North Carolina last season, including 12 starts. He started his career at Marquette and earned All-Big East freshman honors in 2020-21.
“That’s what you need in this league at this level,” Johnson said earlier. “You have to have guys who have that caliber of talent.”
In his first 10 games with the Tar Heels, Garcia averaged 12.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, shot 47.8 percent on three, and 49.4 percent from the field. Among his three 20-point performances, including a season-high 26-for-10 points on 13 shooting in a loss to Purdue.
After entering the transfer portal last spring, Garcia spoke with the Gophers about playing for the State of Origin program and helping build a foundation. Johnson recruited Garcia when he was an assistant to former U manager Richard Pitino.
“Ben did an amazing job of establishing a culture in a year,” Garcia said earlier. “I’m excited to put on the uniform, but also when it comes time to be a proud veteran and say I’ve been part of Minnesota’s basketball recovery process.”
Garcia is expected to start in the frontcourt alongside Gophers scoring and rebounding leader Jamison Battle, who played in the same D1 Minnesota AAU program in high school.
Junior forwards Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen suffered knee injuries this summer for the second year in a row. But freshman Pharrel Payne and 7-foot sophomore Treyton Thompson should also provide depth inside.
The Gophers open Nov. 2 with an exhibition game against St. Olaf, but the regular season begins Nov. 7 against Western Michigan at Williams Arena.