Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith said at his season-ending news conference last week that he wouldn't be surprised to see a player (or players) transfer.
That was proven to be true Monday when it was announced Chip Armelin asked for and will be officially granted a release from his scholarship. He will stay on campus through the spring semester.
Unlike other transfers in recent seasons -- Royce White, Devoe Joseph and Justin Cobbs, to name a few -- Armelin's departure could be a net gain for Minnesota. The news means the Gophers have a scholarship available for Trevor Mbakwe, if he chooses to take it. Mbakwe, who recently was granted a sixth year of eligibility, has been leaning toward coming back. Smith said Thursday he had been told by Mbakwe that he plans to return, and Sunday night Mbakwe posted on Twitter: "Unfinished Business. I can't go out like this."
Regarding Armelin, Smith said in a statement: "Chip has been a valuable part of our program for the past two seasons. ... We are sad that he has elected to leave but certainly want to wish him the very best."
It is unknown where Armelin will wind up, though it could be closer to his native Louisiana. Armelin, a sophomore guard, averaged 5.2 points in 38 games this season, all as a reserve. The lefthander had his moments as a spark off the bench and scored a career-high 20 points in the regular-season finale against Nebraska. But his playing time severely decreased in the postseason. He played only 19 minutes combined in the Gophers' four NIT victories, scoring only two points in the tournament.