Head coach Tubby Smith said at his season-ending news conference last week that he wouldn't be surprised to see a player (or players) transfer.
That was proven to be true Monday when it was announced Chip Armelin, a player many fans speculated might leave the program, has asked for and will be officially granted a release from his scholarship by the University of Minnesota. He will stay on campus through the spring semester.
“Chip has been a valuable part of our program for the past two seasons,” Smith said. “He has done everything we have asked of him and we are grateful for his contributions to this program on and off of the court. We are sad that he has elected to leave but certainly want to wish him the very best.”
It is unknown where Armelin will wind up, though it could be closer to his native Louisiana; he can use a redshirt season next year and have two seasons of eligibility left after that.
Armelin, a sophomore guard, averaged 5.2 points in 38 games this season, all as a reserve. The left-hander had his moments as a spark off the bench and scored a career-high 20 points in the regular-season finale against Nebraska. But his playing time severely decreased in the postseason. He played just 19 minutes combined in the Gophers' four NIT victories, scoring only two points in the tournament.
Unlike other transfers in recent seasons -- Royce White, Devoe Joseph and Justin Cobbs, to name a few -- Armelin's departure could be a net gain for Minnesota.
The news means the Gophers have a scholarship available for Trevor Mbakwe, if he chooses to take it. Mbakwe, who was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility, has been leaning toward coming back. Smith said Thursday he had been told by Mbakwe that he plans to return, and on Sunday night Mbakwe sent out the cryptic but perhaps noteworthy tweet, "Unfinished Business. I can't go out like this."