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.

“Play with energy, rebound the ball pretty well, pretty good defender, block shots,” he said, delivering a scouting report on himself. “I’m not one of those guys who has to have the ball in his hands to have an impact on the game. I pride myself on my ability to rebound the ball and defend. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m here today. I’m just thankful I finally have a chance to live my dream.”

 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
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 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
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: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close