When Gabe Kalscheur committed to Minnesota last summer, his team looked to be moving in a positive direction after making the NCAA tournament.
That was good while it lasted.
Minnesota is 15-15 overall, but Kalscheur isn't worried about the team's struggles.
“That doesn't bother me at all,” Kalscheur said. “They have some injuries, I mean that hurts them a lot right now. But I mean they're looking good, everything's up in the right direction and the coaching staff's doing a great job right now.”
Kalscheur is one of three incoming freshman who will look to add depth to the team next season.
In his last game, he scored 33 points Tuesday night against Brooklyn Center, which resulted in a 83-56 victory. The DeLaSalle guard has helped his high school team to an 18-4 record.
Next year's recruiting class consists of Jarvis Omersa, Daniel Oturu and Kalscheur, all from Minnesota. They know each other well from playing together at Howard Pulley, an AAU basketball team.
"I feel like we bring a lot of energy and also a lot of defense," Kalscheur said. "We also bring communication, and I feel like for freshmen that's very important."
At 6 feet 8 inches, Omersa is a forward from Orono High School. He leads his team in points, averaging 19.1 points and 11 rebounds per game. Oturu is a 6-foot-10-inch center from Cretin-Derham Hall High School who leads the Raiders with 18.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, and leads the state in blocks with 131.
The three players might factor into the team sooner than they expected.
The Gophers returned all but one rotation player from last year's tournament-bound team, but after injuries and expulsions, Minnesota lacks depth. Forward Eric Curry tore his ACL and center Reggie Lynch was expelled from the school for sexual misconduct violations. Guard Amir Coffey needed season-ending surgery on his shoulder as the Gophers have lost nine of their last 11 games.
"Anybody that suffers what the Gophers have lost would be lucky to even still be competing," Omersa said.
Kalscheur is just five minutes away from the Minnesota campus. He leads the trio in average points per game this year with 21.6.
His head coach at DeLaSalle, Travis Bledsoe, said Kalscheur helps the Gophers with lock-down defense and good shooting.
“Gabe is a tough-minded kid,” Bledsoe said. “He's going to play hardcore defense, do the dirty work. And then offensively, he's going to be able to make shots, stretch the floor for the Gophers, and be a vocal leader on the team.”
Bledsoe, who played basketball at North Dakota, said Kalscheur needs to work on ball handling and be prepared for tough times that happen in college if he wants to be successful at the next level.
“He's got a quiet demeanor to him, but he's got internal fire,” Bledsoe said. “He's always going. He is very, very competitive. And he wants to win, he'll do anything it takes to win.”
Though they will be teammates next season, the three recruits are in competition during their high school careers.
Oturu and Kalscheur faced off in the regular season, and Oturu's Cretin-Derham Hall beat DeLaSalle 77-66. If Kalscheur wants to make it to state this year, he will likely need to defeat Omersa as No. 5 Orono and No. 1 DeLaSalle are in the same section.
“Obviously, we'll butt heads a little bit during the game, because we're just both competitors,” said Omersa about a possible matchup with the Islanders. “It's a big game and it's senior year and it's a season-ending type thing, so it'll be a little bit more personal.”
Minnesota mounted the biggest one-season turnaround in the NCAA in 2016-17. They will look for a similar comeback next year with three new faces on the roster.
"Next year will be a totally different season. Daniel Oturu's coming in there [and Omersa]," Bledsoe said. "So it'll be a new culture, I think, by the time [Kalscheur] makes it there."