Trevor Mbakwe will be the first to admit that there is still a lot to consider, but when he officially addressed the media for the first time on Saturday since hearing the NCAA granted him a sixth year opportunity with Minnesota, he started to give a hint about his thought process.
"I’m leaning toward getting another year," he said. "But the situation is kind of complicated. We’ll know more after the season, but there’s a lot more that needs to play out before I’ll be able to make a decision."
By that Mbakwe means the sways of starting his NBA career -- regardless of the likely tumble in the draft due to the torn ACL he sustained in November -- as well as the involved matter of Minnesota freeing up a scholarship on a squad that is alreaady at the NCAA maximum 13.
Right now, Mbakwe is mostly doing leg presses, he said. In a couple weeks, he hopes to be running, which would put him on pace to start shooting drills about a month from now, and playing around May or early June.
With the draft entry deadline coming at the end of April, Mbakwe has just more than a month to decide if he would come back, a decision he says coach Tubby Smith is encouraging.
"He’s never been shy in telling me the truth," Mbakwe said of Smith. "He says obviously it would be a lot harder, just with me not playing and me possibly not being able to do workouts and teams risking a chance with someone who’s come off a knee injury."
Due to last season's lockout, the NBA pre-draft workout has been pushed forward about three weeks to the middle of June, which means Mbakwe could have a chance to show scouts his progress.
Other notes from today's access:
- Oto Osenieks is still suffering from the effects of a concussion sustained in the Miami game and still has not practiced with the team, Smith said. He could be available by Tuesday, though, the coach added.
- Ralph Sampson III has been practicing with the team, but has been unable to explode off his knee, Smith said. He did not say whether Sampson would be available on Tuesday, but the staff has said for several prior games that Sampson was available; however, he has not played since the last game of the season, against Nebraska. Sampson tweaked his knee in a practice leading into the Big Ten tournament.
- Smith said he has not talked with his team at all about any of the rumors circulating about other schools being interested in him. " I don’t ever talk about it, it doesn’t make any difference to me," he said. "I’m not involved with any job so why would I even address it? I’ve got a job here. It’s like anything else, rumor mills are rumors."