The Minnesota Golden Gophers will most likely get the services of Trevor Mbakwe for another year after he was granted a sixth year of eligibility to play from the NCAA. The 6'8'' forward -- the best rebounder in the entire Big Ten in 2010-2011 -- had a strong start for the Gophers in 2012, averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game before he was sidelined by a season ending knee injury.
Now coach Tubby Smith has asked the NCAA to help them out with another matter, getting an extra scholarship to give to Mbakwe so that a scholarship wouldn't have to be taken away from any younger incoming players or possible transfer targets, including Trent Lockett of the Arizona Sun Devils, to make way for the veteran.
"I would never run a player off," said Smith, who said he hasn't had one-on-one meetings with all of his players yet, "but usually through attrition, usually through something, somebody decides that this is it."
Smith said he would "cross that bridge when we get to it" if the NCAA doesn't award another scholarship for Mbakwe.
Getting Mbakwe back, the Gophers will try to improve on a season that saw them make the NIT final after a terrible collapse out of NCAA Tournament contention near the end of conference play.