There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2019-20 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players.
This week: Gopher basketball players Jasmine Brunson (senior guard), Gadiva Hubbard (junior guard), and Jasmine Powell (freshman guard)
One of the Gopher players profiled this week is from New York and another is from Detroit, both with the same first name, and the third player, who hails from Virginia, is nicknamed “Diva.” When a local reporter recently asked Gopher Coach Lindsay Whalen if there’s any confusion having two players with the same first name both playing the same point guard position, she politely dismissed the inquirer.
This is Brunson’s second season as a regular. After starting her last 10 games during her freshman year, the 5’-8” Queens, New York guard started just once the following season. But when Whalen took over last season, she inserted the then-junior as starting point guard, which Brunson has handled well. Last season she posted career highs in scoring average (8.4) and assists (82) and led Minnesota in steals (38).
The 2019-20 team captain, two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, and 2019 all-conference Sportsmanship Award honoree, Brunson had a season-high 15 points and a career-tying six assists in a November 17 home win over Arizona State.
Brunson will earn her business and marketing education degree from Minnesota next spring. “I only have to take a one-credit [class] online next semester. And I only need a half-credit [to graduate],” the senior told me. “Academics have been real good for me.”
But early on, she recalled, choosing a major was a challenge for her. “Once I found my major, the classes became fine for me,” Brunson noted.
She said that her degree offers her many options: “It is so many different things you can do with that degree. You can do business, marketing, so many different things.”
After she was forced to sit out last season with right foot surgery, Hubbard now treats each game she plays as precious. She played in 32 games in 2017-18 and finished third in scoring (13.6) and second in assists (3.4).
“I think I did learn a lot sitting on the bench. I got to sit there and learn,” the 5’-9” redshirt junior guard from Virginia Beach, Va. recalled. “I had to contribute in some way, and I was cheering for my team.”
As for Hubbard’s presence this season on the court, she is hitting over 36% from three-point land. The guard had a season-high 24 points Sunday in a home win over UC Davis. She is logging nearly 27 minutes a game.
A business and marketing major, Hubbard will be graduating this month before starting work on a master’s degree in sport management. “School is going good,” she pointed out. “I want to take [her degree] somehow into the sports field. I don’t know what part.
Freshman Powell says she has slowly adjusted to campus life. “The academics are the same as my high school since my high school is a college preparatory school,” the 5’-6” Detroit native stressed. “I’m just finding my way in college. I really have to adjust to time and being on time. That’s a big adjustment for me.”
As the Gophers’ top sparkplug off the bench this season, Powell is third on the team in scoring (nearly 12 points a game). Her 19 points off the bench against Vermont were the most by a Minnesota player since 2017.
“She is making good decisions for us,” Coach Lindsay Whalen said.
Powell has decided to pursue journalism as her major, with broadcasting as a focus. “I want to stay around the game as much as I can after college and after I’m done playing,” she said. “I think that is the best way to do it, doing something that I love to do.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.