Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe, who got the good news from the NCAA Thursday that he has been awarded a sixth year of eligibility after being injured in the first six games this past season, is going to test the draft but he says there’s a good chance he will return to play for the Gophers.
“I feel great. I’m happy. I was pretty nervous the whole time waiting to find out what was going to happen with the NCAA,” Mbakwe said. “But I’m happy, I’m ecstatic and I’m just waiting to see what my next move is going to be and just continue to keep getting me knee better.”
“I don’t know yet. I still have to work some things out and see what the best option is for me,” said Mbakwe when asked if he will return to the Gophers. “Right now I’m just playing it by ear and taking it day-by-day.”
“Yeah there’s still a possibility [of entering the draft]. It’s my lifelong dream and something I’ve been working hard for,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough decision. I want to play back with all my teammates, I missed them and I’m not happy with the way this last year went. It would be nice to finally take this team to a tournament.”
Mbakwe said he won’t hire an agent any time soon as he tests his viability in the draft market before the NBA draft in June. That will keep him eligible for the Gophers if his chances to be drafted by the NBA aren’t positive.
“I’ll see what the interest is,” Mbakwe said. “I know teams, the biggest question is going to be my knee and showing them that my knee is fine. That’s why I’m continuing to work hard on that.”
Gopher coach Tubby Smith, who was optimistic all the time that the extra year would develop, wants the 6-8 cager to play next season but his comment was “that the decision about playing is all up to Mbakwe”
Mbakwe reported that his “knee is doing really good. It’s getting better. I’m starting to do more things, I’ll be running in a couple of weeks. I’m really happy about it.”
“Yeah I’ll be able to play. I’ll be playing again this summer.”
Mbakwe graduated in December but he’s still in school taking classes.
“I’m taking two lab courses. I have an independent study that I’m taking and a design class that I took and completed.”