Trevor Mbakwe given sixth year
Minnesota has reached this year's NIT semifinals, but the Golden Gophers took a major step toward the reaching the NCAA tournament in 2013 when the NCAA on Thursday granted 6-foot-8 forward Trevor Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility.
The Minnesota staff confirmed to ESPN.com an earlier WCCO-TV report that Mbakwe received medical clearance from the NCAA to compete again next season.
The school announced the decision Friday.
Mbakwe, considered one of the top forwards in the country, tore his right ACL in the Old Spice Classic title game loss to Dayton on Nov. 27. Mbakwe played in only seven games this season, averaging a team-high 14 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
A healthy Mbakwe probably would have kept the Gophers in contention for an NCAA bid this season.
Minnesota finished 6-12 in the Big Ten but lost a number of close games, including in overtime at Illinois, to Wisconsin and Michigan, which could have left the Gophers at 9-9 at the very least in the Big Ten.
The Gophers have rallied in the NIT, winning three road games at La Salle, Miami and Middle Tennessee.
Minnesota plays Washington Tuesday in New York.
With Mbakwe, the Gophers would return their entire team except for senior Ralph Sampson III. Having Mbakwe to join Rodney Williams, Julian Welch and Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins would give the Gophers their top five scorers back for next season.
Top 15-20 team next year.
I'm going to book the fact that Minnesota is going to go to the Sweet 16, assuming Rodney Williams stays in school. I love his game and I think he's going to carry his excellent NIT play into next year. If Mbakwe could be the nightly double-double threat he has been, that would be an excellent frontcourt. Add good guard play from the Hollins brothers, and they should be a nice well rounded team next season.
Kids like this amaze me. Robbie Hummel is another. They suffer setback after setback and yet they continually try and come back when they could have just given up. It's great for the game when kids have this much heart.
I still don't understand how a 24-year old (by draft night) injury-riddled undersized bigman, who is coming off a 14&9 season can be seen as a lottery pick.
He's undersized being 6'8... But when you consider that he has at least a 7'4 wingspan... I think he's alright.
He won't be a lottery pick.
It's just that he's 8th on the mock
I know. Don't worry about this site's mock, it's useless until a few months before the draft. So the 2013 mock won't matter for a long time. He's probably an early 2nd now, and if he proves he's healed well next year he'll most likely go somewhere between 20-30.
This is great news for Minnesota. They have a nice roster in place for next year for sure now
But, while it is not certain, Trent Lockett might be granted a hardship scholarship release as his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Seeing that Trent is from Minnesota, the Golden Gophers seem like a definite possibility. Would be another huge addition to a team that has had a solid NIT run.