Osenieks could extend his Gophers career and play Tuesday, Eliason out
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Gophers forward Oto Osenieks could extend his career at least one more game on Tuesday as he's been medically cleared to play, per the Pioneer Press.
Osenieks, a junior, was honored at Minnesota's Senior Night in the final regular season game on March 9 after doctors and Osenieks reportedly decided it wasn't worth continuing to play through knee pain in the same area he's already had two surgeries. He last played on Feb. 22 against Ohio State.
The Gophers' postseason run in the NIT has apparently lasted long enough for Osenieks to return to the practice court and he could even play in the team's Tuesday semifinal against Florida State at Madison Square Garden. However, it appears his playing career in Minnesota will only be extended at least one game as his plan to stay on next year as a graduate assistant doesn't seem to have changed.
The Gophers will need as much depth as possible as center Elliott Eliason will likely be out on Tuesday.
Junior center Mo Walker will replace Eliason in the starting lineup as coach Richard Pitino reportedly said he 'doesn't anticipate' Eliason will be able to play after turning his ankle in practice last week.
Eliason started 32 games this season and finished third in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game. Walker has appeared in 30 games on a rotational basis, averaging more than 17 minutes per game.
Starting forward Joey King will likely switch to center when Walker is subbed out. Another option in the frontcourt would be redshirt freshman forward Charles Buggs, who has averaged just over seven minutes per game in three NIT appearances.
The Gophers are playing for the second NIT championship bid in the past three seasons. If the Gophers get past the Seminoles, Minnesota would play the winner between Southern Methodist and Clemson on Thursday.