By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A big player in the western suburbs hopes to fill some big holes in the Gopher lineup next year.

Jarvis Omersa is one of three top Minnesota recruits staying home to play for Richard Pitino, and the way he’s playing, he should make a difference.

Omersa has grown to a point where he can lead, and he leads in part with a dominant inside presence. He can get to the basket with one part power and one part finesse.

“Most people know me as the hype guy, the guy that, you know, plays above the rim all the time, which I still definitely do,” Omersa said. “But now I’ve kind of found myself in the role, especially this year, of playing more like a leadership role.”

That is the evolution of a young man growing into his body, and figuring out what he can do.

“Oh, he’s right up there. And Jarvis is the most athletic player I’ve ever coached,” said Coach Barry Wohler. “He does stuff in practice and games, as far as dunking the ball. Last year we were at Big Lake and we threw a lob, and I’m sitting on the bench and I look and [I thought it was] going out of bounds. Well, he caught it and dunked it. I stopped it on camera and he is reaching back and has both hands were above the square catching the ball and brought it back and dunked it.”

Jarvis Omersa (credit: CBS)

He has played against the best in the state. In fact, Cretin-Derham Hall’s Daniel Oturo is a rival who will become a teammate. They will join forces, along with DeLaSalle’s Gabe Kelscheur, as Gophers’ recruiting class next season.

It is big responsibility to try and re-energize the program.

“It’s a lot. You know, there’s a lot that comes with it. There’s a lot of kids looking up to you,” Omersa said. “[The Gophers] got a lot riding on us.”

And yes, it is Kelscheur and DeLaSalle that could stand in his way of a state tournament. They are in the same section with the six-time defending state champion Islanders.

“That goal is huge. I feel like I would have failed my high school career if I don’t at least get one … ring underneath my belt,” he said.

You can hear it in his voice. He wants to be among the best, to improve every day and to be his team’s leader.

“I think he’s going to go in as a freshman next year, athletically, and give them energy,” Wohler said. “He’s going to be, as a freshman, wanting to guard the best player, whether there’s to two, three or four. That’s his mentality. So he’s got that competitive edge.”

Wohler knows. He went to the University of Minnesota and played for the Gophers. He knows what is ahead, and it’s more challenging than what is right now.

“You got to keep working. You can’t be satisfied with that scholarship that you’ve arrived,” Wohler said. “You hear that in college, and you hear that in the NBA. Some guys make the NBA, they’ve arrived. But the Chris Pauls of the world talk about improving your game, working on the summer.”

He has enjoyed his time since moving to Orono two years ago, taking control of his game and fitting in along the way.

“You know, it’s been awesome. Orono is a great school, everybody’s really accepting,” Omersa said. “It’s easy with the kids, people don’t really, you know, mind that much. Everything’s pretty chill, I’d say.”

Mike Max