Jamison Battle, Ta’Lon Cooper leaning toward moving on from Gophers
Battle was the second-leading scorer for Minnesota this season
MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers men’s basketball program honored three players on Senior Night against Wisconsin at Williams Arena on Sunday, and it appears like it will be the final time Jamison Battle wears maroon and gold at The Barn.
Battle and Ta’Lon Cooper each have one year of eligibility remaining for the 2023-24 season, but both are leaning toward starting new chapters.
Head coach Ben Johnson told Mike Grimm on the KFAN pregame show that Battle is considering his prospects in playing professional basketball. Battle is the Gophers' second-leading scorer at 13.2 points per game, and Minnesota’s rebuilding project would get tougher without Battle’s leadership and contributions.
“I think he’s going to be leaning towards that,” Johnson said pregame on the radio. “When you can go and live your dream out in two ways, playing here and being able to put on the Gopher uniform and also play well enough where you can pursue your pro career, whatever that is. We are excited for him.”
Both Battle and Cooper have had conversations with Johnson about their future and have time to make final decisions, but Johnson sounded more definitive on Battle’s future postgame.
“With Jamison, we’ve known for a while,” he said. “… He is just in a mind frame of that is exciting to him right now. He has done his four years and he’s done it at a high level. Now it’s time to try something new, a new adventure. Again, I just want to thank him for believing in us.”
When Cooper transferred from Morehead State last spring, he said he might only use one of the two available seasons at Minnesota. Cooper has started all 29 games, with 9.9 points and 6.1 assists per game.
Johnson said they were planning to take it one year at a time with Cooper. “Sometimes in recruiting, we get a (prep point guard) Cam Christie because you have an opportunity. You get good players because they see an opportunity to be able to compete for minutes right away. We will get with Lon, but I think he could be in the same boat with older guys, and I get it, you only have so many jumps in your legs.”
Taurus Samuels transferred to Minnesota from Dartmouth with only one season of eligibility remaining. Samuels has averaged 17 minutes per game and has been coming off the bench for most of Big Ten play.
Johnson commended the trio of players for their leadership and work ethic at Minnesota. All three players will graduate.
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