'I'm a guy with a big chip on my shoulder'

‘I’m a guy with a big chip on my shoulder’

Halfway through the 2021-22 season, Dawson Garcia left the North Carolina basketball team and headed back home to his family in Minnesota following the passing of his father. Garcia never returned to UNC, opting to enter his name into the transfer portal, where he committed to Ben Johnson and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He recently said he will play the upcoming season with a big chip on his shoulder.

“It was important for me to continue my basketball career back in Minnesota just to be around my family and my community,” Garcia told Andy Katz of the Big Ten Network. “I’m excited to get to work.”

As a sophomore at UNC, Garcia split time in the post with fellow transfer Brady Manek (Oklahoma) and averaged 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 16 games. After taking time off, Garcia is ready to get back on the court and show the college basketball landscape why he was one of the most revered players in the transfer portal.

“They’re going to see a guy with a big-time chip on his shoulder,” Garcia said. “I’ve continued to add to and work on all areas of my game. The main thing is I’m a guy with a big chip on my shoulder, hungry.”

Garcia said one of his main drives is living up to the expectation he placed on himself.

“The chip comes from having to take a little bit of time away from the game to just be around my family and be there for them,” Garcia said. “I’m eager to get back on the court. I try to block out everything, but there is some doubt and naysayers, so I’m ready to get back on the court not to prove anyone wrong but to prove myself right.”

The former Tar Heel has found a mentor in Johnson, who is entering his second year at Minnesota.

“He’s got my back; he’s got all of our backs big time,” Garcia said. “He loves this community, he loves this city, he loves this program. He brings so much passion every day and is super detailed in getting us better as individuals and collectively. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Last season, Minnesota went 13-17 and finished in last place in the Big Ten. With just one senior on the roster, Garcia acknowledged that the team’s young talent must play beyond its years to be competitive.

“I’m just going to go out there and play my game and do what I do best, and I know everything else will fall into place,” Garcia said. “We got a great group of guys on this team. We’re young, but we can’t let that be an excuse for us because we have a whole lot of talent.”

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Before transferring to UNC, Garcia spent his freshman season at Marquette, where he averaged 13.0 points and 6.6 rebounds across 27 games played. Garcia was the No. 37 overall prospect and No. 4 power forward in the 2020 recruiting class.

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