Finally, Boone is home with the Gophers

Updated: October 30, 2003, 8:35 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota basketball coach Dan Monson always had his eye on Adam Boone. It just took four long years to land him.

"He was the first player I called" after being hired in 1999, Monson recalled Thursday. "I don't think it's been a secret that I've been on the Adam Boone bandwagon since the day I took the job."

Boone, of Minnetonka, passed up the Gophers for North Carolina. After two seasons, he'd had enough of Chapel Hill, and decided to transfer to Minnesota.

"I have huge expectations for him," Monson said. "I think his play is going to be a key to the success of our team."

Boone, who sat out last season as a redshirt, said Monson was the main reason he decided to return home.

"I think the first time around in recruiting I enjoyed him, I liked his staff, but it just wasn't the right timing for me with the sanctions hanging over the program and everything," Boone said. "When I decided to transfer and he was one of the first people to get in touch with me, it meant a lot."

Boone, the state's Mr. Basketball as a high school senior, will mean a lot to the Gophers' chances in the Big Ten. Minnesota lost three starters -- Rick Rickert, Jerry Holman and Kevin Burleson -- from last year. He'll be joined in the backcourt by Moe Hargrow when the Gophers open Nov. 7 against Concordia-St. Paul.

"Our backcourt is going to play a key role this year," said Aaron Robinson, who will also see time at point guard. "I'm looking for Adam to really give us some help there. He's a leader, and we need him to lead us."

Boone, who averaged 7.2 points per game for the Tar Heels while starting 18 games in 2001-02, says his experience playing in the ACC will help him adjust to life in the Big Ten.

"I haven't played a game in the Big Ten yet but I can't imagine it's too different from the ACC," he said. "I think in the end big-time college basketball is the same no matter where you are."

The Gophers also will be counting on rapid development from Kris Humphries, the Hopkins star who first committed to Duke before changing his mind and seeking a release to play at Minnesota.

"I don't think I've ever been involved in all my years of coaching with such a transformation in a team, all within one year," Monson said. "I'm not sure if that translates good or bad. If you look at the magazines and the experts out there, they have us about ninth (in the conference), and it's really hard to argue right now until we prove anything different."

Boone said he'll show the wait was worth it.

"Without Jerry Holman or Rick Rickert down low, we're kind of more a perimeter team, focused on pushing the ball, and that suits me and my game much better," Boone said. "And it's something I will be able to show this year."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index