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Nations leader in assists Elijah Hawkins returns to Gophers



College sports have changed, as top players need to announce their returns to programs instead of entering the transfer portal. Point guard Elijah Hawkins is the latest to do so for the Gophers. After transferring in from Howard, this time last offseason, Hawkins will be the best returning statistical passer in college basketball next season.

The DMV, Maryland native averaged 7.5 assists per game last season, trailing only Marquette’s Tyler Kolek who has declared for the NBA Draft. He only got better in the Gophers’ system throughout the season, so with an entire offseason to prepare, I am expecting big things from him next season and he has a serious chance to be an all-conference-type player.

Hawkins now joins Dawson Garcia, Mike Mitchell Jr. and Kadyn Betts as Gophers players to officially announce their return for next season. That is officially at least three starters. This focus now shifts to Parker Fox and most importantly star freshman Cam Christie. Players have until April 27 to declare if they would like to test the NBA Draft waters. So that would give him just over two more weeks to think things over. I am under the impression that every option is still on the table, but a return or NBA route seems the most likely.

Overall, Hawkins’ return is just more evidence that the sky is not falling on Ben Johnson in Dinkytown. You could make an argument the Minnesota will have the second-best returning point guard in the conference next season, behind Purdue’s Braden Smith. Guard play is what wins in crunch time in this sport and Hawkins is exactly what you want at the position. There are still some holes to fill within the portal on the roster, but the future is bright for Gophers basketball and there is plenty of reason for optimism for next season.

A lifelong Minnesota sports fan, Tony Liebert is one of the biggest voices in Gophers sports coverage and the owner of Within the realm of credentialed media, Tony refined his abilities while serving as the lead writer for Gopherhole and as the sports editor at the Minnesota Daily during various stages of his career. Work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Yardbarker, and more.