By R.L. Bynum
Dawson Garcia, who left the Carolina team in January last season, has found a productive home at Minnesota.
The sophomore forward, who began his career at Marquette, leads the Gophers in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (5.6 average) while starting all 12 games. He joined a program that was 13–17 last season and 4–16 in the Big Ten.
His best games were 23 points in a 61–60 win over Western Michigan on Nov. 7 and 20 in a 69–51 loss to Mississippi State on Dec. 11, scoring a season-high three 3-pointers in both games. He has 20 assists, eight steals and eight blocks this season.
“It was important for me to continue on my basketball career back again in Minnesota just to be all around my family and my neighborhood,” Garcia, from Savage, Minn., told Andy Katz before the season.
Garcia, who has averaged 16.3 points and has shot 51% from the floor in the last four games, told Katz that he has a chip on his shoulder.
“I feel like I can continue to add and work on all areas of my game,” Garcia told Katz. “So, the main thing is just a guy with a big chip on his shoulder, ready and hungry.”
Minnesota (6–6, 0–2 Big Ten) hasn’t played since Dawson scored 18 points in a 58–55 home win on Dec. 22 against Chicago State, and returns to action at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Wisconsin (Big Ten Network).
He was a starter for UNC beginning with the second game last season but came off the bench in his last three games as a Tar Heel. He combined for 14 points in those games, an 88–65 home win on Jan. 15 over Georgia Tech and blowout road losses Jan. 18 at Miami (85–57) and Jan. 22 at Wake Forest (98–76).
Brady Manek took over as the starter and the Tar Heels’ season started to turn around after Garcia left to be with his family, which was dealing with health concerns.
Garcia averaged 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds for Carolina, with a season-high of 26 points in the Nov. 20 loss to Purdue.
Garcia scored the game-winning basket with five seconds left in overtime to help the Gophers avoid being upset by California Baptist with a 62–61 escape on Nov. 21.
Minnesota has lost to two teams that have played Carolina. Dawson had five points on Nov. 28 in Minnesota’s 67–57 loss at Virginia Tech and 13 points on Dec. 8 in a 90–75 home loss to Michigan.
Photo via @GopherMBB