Mbakwe tries to catch someone's eye at NBA draft combine

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2013 - 7:23 AM

The former Gopher has moved on to the next stage in his life, trying to make it as an undersized NBA power forward.

hide

Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, left, battles over a rebound with Indiana's Derek Elston

 

– Former Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe arrived Thursday at the doorstep of his dreams — the annual combine for the NBA draft’s top prospects — after admittedly taking the long way around.

In a sweepstakes often won by the collegiate game’s one-and-done teenagers, Mbakwe is an old-timer who hopes to convince just one NBA executive that his off-court legal issues and season-ending knee injury two years ago are far behind him and a professional career awaits an undersized power forward who first enrolled in college six years ago this fall.

“It has definitely been an interesting journey,” he said after working out in front of NBA coaches, general managers and scouts in a gym not too far from Chicago’s United Center. “I couldn’t have planned the way it has gone if I wanted to. I’ve been through a lot, but I feel like I’m prepared at this point now.

“I definitely didn’t have the ideal route to get here as many people would have wanted. But I’m just fortunate and lucky to be here, and I’m going to make the best of the opportunity.”

At age 24, he is more than five years older than potential No. 1 overall pick Nerlens Noel, a 6-11 freshman center from Kentucky.

He also is, he says, older and wiser after a collegiate career in which he sat out a season while reaching a plea agreement on a felony assault charge for punching a woman in the face in Miami and played just seven games two seasons ago after tearing his anterior-cruciate knee ligament.

He calls himself a healthy man both in body and spirit, and said he is ready to tell teams so in probing interviews that are part of the draft process.

“There are some off-court issues,” said Mbakwe, who started his career at Marquette, ended it at Minnesota and violated a restraining order in 2011 and was arrested for drunken driving in 2012 in between. “I know that’s something I’m going to have to deal with for the next month and a half. But I’m prepared and I’m ready to answer those questions.”

He also says he is ready to answer questions about his age and his potential in a league in which scouts drool over youngsters’ “upside.”

“It could play a negative factor, but just maturity-wise, I know my role and I know what I can do to the help a team win,” Mbakwe said. “I’m one of the older guys here. I think my age can definitely be a positive.”

He points to Michigan State’s Draymond Green, a second-round draft pick last summer who played four college seasons and now has helped Golden State reach the NBA playoffs’ second round.

“Some people said, ‘Not a big upside,’ but he’s making a great contribution at Golden State,” Mbakwe said.

Listed at 6-8, 240 pounds, Mbakwe is small by NBA power-forward standards and too bulky to chase small forwards all over the court.

He clicks off a list of players — Denver’s Kenneth Faried, Utah’s Paul Millsap, Golden State’s Carl Landry, Brooklyn’s Reggie Evans, San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair — who succeed in the NBA despite being termed undersized.

“I don’t think it’s as big an issue as people make it,” he said. “So many guys who have had success at the next level aren’t your typical 6-9, 6-10 big guys, but they do things exceptionally well. Faried is one of those guys, but I love the way he plays: He plays with so much energy. He’s athletic. He’s one of the players I model myself around. He’s the same size, same build as me and I think I can do a lot of the same things he does.

“They say one thing that translates from college to pros is the ability to rebound, and I feel like that’s something I do pretty well.”

Once projected earlier in his college career as a first-round pick, Mbakwe now — like Green, Millsap, Landry and Blair before him — likely is a second-round pick who hopes to find his way in the NBA because of his willingness to do the little, underappreciated things that others too often avoid.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close