A little bit of news in the world of ex-Gophers to address from the past couple of days:
First off, it appears Joe Coleman has landed at St. Mary’s after getting his release from Minnesota earlier this spring.
Jeff Goodman, now with ESPN, initially reported the news on Monday.
“It came down to the fact that Coach [Randy] Bennett has been able to develop guards and also that they have playing time available," Coleman told ESPN.com. "When Coach [Tubby] Smith left, I decided I wanted to go somewhere that I could expand my game."
Coleman, who will have to sit out a year via transfer rules, averaged 8.7 points in 26 minutes a game last season, his second year under Smith.
St. Mary's went 28-7 last season, losing 54-52 to Memphis in the NCAA tournament's round of 64 after winning a "First Four" game against Middle Tennessee State.
In case you missed it over the weekend, former Gopher Trevor Mbakwe has received an invite to the Philadelphia 76ers’ summer league, effectively reuniting the St. Paul big with former teammate Rodney Williams, who has agreed to a free agent deal with the 76ers.
“It’s real good,” Williams’ dad, Rodney Williams Sr. said of the pair playing together again. “I think it’s going to make him more comfortable with the situation.”
The elder Williams was with his son on Thursday night as they watched the draft unfold, ultimately never hearing Rodney’s name called.
“It was real hard to watch, especially after seeing the players that were called before him knowing that he’s a much better player than some of them that were called," he said. "But I understand how they pick them – I know they’re looking for youth and a lot of kids are coming out early and I understand that totally."
In the end, though, he said Williams is pleased with how things turned out, feeling as though Philadelphia was his best pre-draft workout.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Williams Sr. said. “Some things don’t happen the way you want them, but we’re pretty satisfied because he has a chance to go prove himself and he’s the only one that can make them keep him. We can’t do it.”
Both ex-Gophers will have a bit of a difficult road ahead of them as they try to achieve that next big step. Mbakwe has a skill set that could be valuable to the 76ers, but he is also undersized, and at 24, older than most prospects in his position. Williams has long had the reputation for being an athletic freak, but is still very raw in other areas, such as his ball handling and shooting.