MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When DeAndre Mathieu got hurt, Maverick Ahanmisi got his chance he’d been waiting his entire college career for.
In what could have been the senior’s last college game, he scored a career-high 21 points in the Gophers’ opening-round win over High Point University.
“Mav playing his best basketball late, that’s what it’s all about. And I’m happy for him. Like I’ve said all along, I wanted to find him more minutes, he’s found a way to get it,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said.
Ahanmisi played less this year than ever before, even than when he was a freshman. In January and February, he had a combined two points.
There were nine games this year he never even left the bench, a possible result of a coaching change.
“Obviously I would want to have played more this season. But I mean, I love my teammates and I love my coaches. So, I mean, I’m getting the opportunity now so I’m just taking advantage of it,” Ahanmisi said.
“I think he’s handled it as classy as any kid could. Mav never ever had a bad day. Ever. Practice, he brought it. He understood the big picture,” Pitino said, “That’s harder than people understand. That takes great, great maturity, great substance as a kid. And that’s why, however long he plays, hopefully he plays overseas, but then after that, he’s going to be a very successful person.”
“I’ve had fun,” Ahanmisi said. “Through all the adversity that I’ve went through, I realized that it’s a learning experience, and it’s only going to help me in my future.”
The future could be any day now for Ahanmisi.
When the Gophers season ends, so does his college career, but he’s playing like it can wait.
“I don’t want my career to end…I want to play as many games as I can still, so, I mean, I’m going to play as hard as I can,” Ahanmisi said.