Gophers’ Battle, Cooper enter portal while exploring pro options
Gophers coach Ben Johnson had said he was prepared to lose both Jamison Battle and Ta'Lon Cooper, who were honored during Senior Night on March 5 after a loss to Wisconsin.
Battle and Cooper are expected to pursue professional basketball opportunities, and both entered the NCAA transfer portal on Thursday, to extend their playing options.
The Gophers (9-21) have now lost four players to the portal since their season-ending Big Ten tournament second round loss against Maryland in Chicago, including freshman wing Jaden Henley and sophomore big man Treyton Thompson.
Battle averaged 12.4 points and 3.8 rebounds during his second season with the Gophers after transferring from George Washington. The 6-7 former DeLaSalle standout earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors while leading the team with 17.5 points in Johnson's first season in 2021-22.
A Morehead State transfer, Cooper started all 31 games and averaged 9.8 points and 6.3 assists per game. His assist average was second in the Big Ten. He also finished No. 2 all-time with the best single-season marks in assists per game and total assists in Gophers program history.
Battle said following the Big Ten tournament opening round win vs. Nebraska that he was glad to extend his career with the Gophers for one more game. He had already talked to Johnson about his future being elsewhere.
"I'm excited to see where that goes," Battle added. "It never really goes through my head that this could be my last game because you stay in the moment. I think that's something that you try to do."
Battle had 15 of his 20 points in the second half, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer in a 75-74 win March 2 vs. Rutgers. The Gophers erased a 10-point deficit in the last 64 seconds.
"We pulled together as a team," Battle said. "That's what I appreciated with this team. That's what we've done this whole season. We rallied around each other regardless of the outcome and we fought our way back."
In the Big Ten tournament, Cooper had 16 points and Gophers tourney record 12 assists in last week's 78-75 opening-round win against the Cornhuskers in Chicago. He also went 8-for-10 at free throw line.
After his last game with the Gophers in the Big Ten tournament loss to Maryland, Cooper was appreciative of his lone season in the Big Ten.
"It meant a lot," Cooper said. "As a kid growing up, I dreamed of playing in the Big Ten. I want to thank everybody in Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to do that. It was a good experience."