Let's start with the disclaimers:

*First, there is absolutely no guarantee that injured Gophers senior forward Trevor Mbakwe will be granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, nor is there a guarantee that he would take it even if it was granted. On the subject of the former, Tubby Smith told new Twitter prodigy Sid Hartman last week: "If the NCAA is true to their word and what their mission is and being student-friendly, then I think he'll be back next year." On the subject of the latter, Mbakwe expressed some mixed thoughts when he spoke to the media in January.

That said, a couple of web sites already have projections out for the 2013 NBA draft. And Mbakwe fits into their projections favorably. NBAdraft.net has Mbakwe tabbed as the No. 8 overall pick in 2013, which presumes of course that he plays another year in college. It's interesting to note, of course, that he's the only college senior predicted to be picked in the entire two rounds that year. Draft Express does not have Mbakwe listed (though Rodney Williams is at the top of the second round, while Nate Wolters (SDSU) and Trent Lockett (Arizona State), a pair of former Minnesota high school players, are also tabbed as second-round picks). NBA Draft Room calls Mbakwe the 16th best prospect in 2013, while Prospect Central likes Mbakwe as a first-round pick. Take all these sites with the requisite grain of salt, of course, because we cannot vouch for the research or knowledge that goes into them, nor are any of the prospects set in stone.

GopherHole put out the initial tweet alerting us to the NBAdraft.net projections, and Mbawke replied on Twitter, "wow ... I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

Again, so much of this is conditional. Still, we welcome your thoughts on Mbakwe's NBA potential.

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