This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Mbakwe has a sixth-year option. Now what?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 23, 2012 - 1:44 PM

He has a sixth year. But will he take it?

He has a sixth year. But will he take it?


After all the drama last night, we know for sure today what some weren't even expecting yesterday: Trevor Mbakwe has the chance at coming back for a sixth season with the Gophers.

Go ahead, celebrate a little.

Of course, immediately following the excitement, there are questions. Lots of them.

Let's start with Mbakwe's options:

  • Return to the Gophers without testing the NBA draft waters. Mbakwe has said he would like to come back, play with the Gophers for another year and perhaps enjoy a drama-free season of college ball, for once. Probably most importantly is that another college season would give Mbakwe the opportunity to show NBA scouts his physical progress and could improve his draft stock. It also wouldn't surprise me if he felt as though he owed the 'U' -- which has stuck by him through a lot. The media has not gotten access to Mbakwe since the official announcement today, but at a January press conference, he spoke to all of these things.
  • Test the draft waters, and then back out at the appropriate time if he doesn't like the forecasting. One of the things Mbakwe might do to determine exactly where he stands is to declare for the draft without an agent and then see where he is being likely projected. That way, if he doesn't like it where he is slated to be picked, he can back out in time for another season at Minnesota.
  • Move on. There's another side to Mbakwe's needs too. He would turn 24 midway through next season and is already older than several Timberwolves players. He has a son he needs to provide for, and the big salaries of the next level are calling. There are strong pulls in the other direction, as he indicated in January.

As of now, nothing has changed. Mbakwe just knows truly what his options are, so now he can start to weigh them.

"I don't know what will happen yet but I'm very blessed to be in this position now," Mbakwe tweeted. "Gophernation is the best and I'm just speechless right now."

On the other hand, Minnesota will need to make some moves of it's own if Mbakwe decides to return. With Ralph Sampson III graduating and two new recruits coming in, the Gophers will be at the NCAA maximum 13 scholarships before considering Mbakwe. 
That means the Gophers would have to make room.

Here are things that could happen:

  • Rodney Williams  could declare for the draft. The junior has said he'll stay, and the Gophers certainly should hope he does based on his recent play, but the possibility remains, particularly with the stunning postseason Williams has enjoyed.
  • A player transfers. This would perhaps be someone who does not appear to fit into the Gophers' immediate plans or who has recently dropped out of the rotation.

So many questions and for now, not a lot of answers. Expect more on this soon, however.


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