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.

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Trevor Mbakwe on the draft, his disappointment and the next steps

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers players Updated: July 3, 2013 - 1:57 PM

Just before embarking on the next leg of his basketball journey, former Gopher Trevor Mbakwe showed up at High Performance Academy to play some ball.

It was a much different setting than those in which he’ll soon find himself. In less than a week, he’ll be playing with NBA hopefuls with the Philadelphia 76ers summer league squad in Orlando, scrutinized by scouts and tested by some of the best. But in the familiar Eagan gym, trimmed on each side with just a pair of aluminum bleachers full of friends and local basketball fans, and playing with high schoolers and current college players, the St. Paul native didn’t hold anything back.

That’s Mbakwe.

Full of intensity and passion and beastly screams. Taking every loss in the post personally. He doesn’t know how to play at any other interval.

After the game (his team, the Sutherland Raiders beat HPA, 113-88 and Mbakwe had 11 points), I caught up with the power forward to talk about the draft, the disappointment and the road ahead. Our conversation:

Congrats on getting an invite to Orlando. I know this path wasn’t what you ideally wanted but there’s got to be some excitement surrounding this new opportunity too, yes?

I’m feeling good. Obviously, I was disappointed at first, but a couple days went by and now it’s on to the next chapter. I’ve got to move forward and build a future. I’ve got some pretty good opportunities now playing in front of everybody, playing games now and I feel good about my chances of at least making somebody’s training camp.

Personally, I was surprised when I didn’t hear your name called. I felt your chances were pretty good. Were you a little surprised as well?

I was really surprised because I had a good process, I was getting pretty good feedback from a lot of teams that I worked out for. I think there were just a lot of questions revolving around my knee. Some teams just said it was a red flag at the pre-draft camp and that it was something that they wanted to look more into. I knew it was going to happen, but now I’ve just got to go out and play the way I play. There are a lot of teams that have been interested, especially after the draft. A lot of teams are surprised I didn’t go. But I’ve just got to take advantage of this opportunity.

Is that the biggest hesitancy that you felt from teams – issues surrounding your knee?

That was the biggest question – the risk with taking me with my past knee injuries. At this point, I just need to show teams that my knee is fine and healthy and I could be durable.

Where did you watch the draft?

I watched it in Eden Prairie with my friends and family.

And what was your reaction as the second round ticked away and your name wasn’t called?

I talked to some of the people that were in the draft [conversation] too, Rodney, Colton and those guys and it was like awe and shock as the draft went on. It was a crazy draft but we knew how this draft class was – there was no real difference between the No. 10 pick and the No. 45 pick. We knew it was going to be interesting. It was kind of disappointing and it kept going on and my name wasn’t called. But like I said, now I’m over it, I’m just looking forward to another opportunity and I’m just looking forward to taking advantage of it.

Honestly, there’s not that much of a difference in the likelihood of those late second-round picks making a team, and undrafted free agents making a team. Is that some solace?

I just think at the end of the day, we all want to hear our name called to stoke our ego or whatever it is you want to say. But me and Rodney [Williams] are in the position that some guys that didn’t get drafted aren’t. Some teams, they don’t know if there’s roster space and guys might just go overseas. We come out with a team we have a good chance of making and going forward and stuff like that. We just wanted to hear our names called. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t the worst. We’re in a position where we can kind of pick where we go.

When did you hear from Philly?

The night of the draft, we knew a couple of teams were going to be coming down to Orlando [including Philly].

And what other teams reached out?

They called my agent. I talked to Toronto, Sacramento, Portland, Minnesota, Philly, Dallas, maybe a couple of others I can’t really remember.

Why did you pick Philly as the team to go to Orlando’s summer league with?

Not every team goes to Orlando for the summer league, so there was opportunity. They were one of my better workouts, they were pretty interested in me during the draft and I saw a good opportunity for myself and I knew Rodney [Williams, who also has an invite to Philly’s summer league] was going to be playing there too so it obviously helps to have a situation with a former teammate.

You and Rodney probably thought you’d never play five or so more games together and you may never get that chance again – is that something that you’re going to cherish?

Definitely. It’s going to be a hard process for both of us, but it definitely helps that we can push one another. We know how to get each other started and what to expect from one another. I definitely think it’s a positive. We don’t know if we’re ever going to be playing together again in the future, so we’ve just got to make the most of it.

If you don’t get a contract after Orlando, will you try to go to the Vegas summer league with some other team?

It depends. At this point, I’m not really sure, it depends on what my agent thinks, but there are other teams so it depends on how things go in Orlando and how things are going heading into Vegas.

And if after the summer you don’t have a contract, does your agent have some overseas things in the works? Would you embrace that?

He’s a pretty big agent, he has another agent that does a lot of overseas things and I guess we’ve got to play it by ear now. We haven’t really talked about that as much lately, so I’m pretty sure I could get into a good situation overseas if that ends up happening.

If things don’t go as planned – obviously, my first goal is to play in the NBA, but it’s not a bad second choice to go overseas. You get paid pretty well and you get a chance to travel the world. So getting paid to play basketball and travel – it can’t get any better than that.


Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Golden State 111 FINAL
Orlando 96
Brooklyn 99 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Portland 105 FINAL
Charlotte 97
Washington 87 FINAL
Cleveland 113
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Detroit 98
New York 102 FINAL
Dallas 109
Toronto 126 FINAL
Atlanta 115
Milwaukee 103 FINAL
Minnesota 86
Sacramento 89 FINAL
Houston 102
Utah 82 FINAL
Oklahoma City 97
Indiana 100 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Denver 102 4th Qtr 2:12
Phoenix 112
Memphis 34 2nd Qtr 6:42
LA Lakers 36
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Washington 2 FINAL(OT)
NY Islanders 3
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Detroit 5
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
Florida 1
Toronto 3 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Minnesota 0
Chicago 2 3rd Prd 7:07
Colorado 2
Calgary 0 2nd Prd
San Jose 0
Robert Morris 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 61
Rochester College 35 FINAL
Eastern Mich 68
Marist 68 FINAL
Fresno State 64
Butler 74 FINAL
North Carolina 66
Liberty 50 FINAL
Morgan State 51
Denver 57 FINAL
Belmont 78
American Univ 64 FINAL
Hampton 60
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
James Madison 79
Northeastern 54 FINAL
Massachusetts 79
Samford 71 FINAL
Kennesaw St 84
Coastal Carolina 61
Hawaii 75 FINAL
East Carolina 73
Missouri 74 FINAL
Chaminade 60
Oklahoma 75
North Florida 72 FINAL
Elon 65
Oral Roberts 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 66
Chicago State 61 FINAL
Western Carolina 66
Purdue 87 FINAL
BYU 85
Furman 54 FINAL
Duke 93
San Francisco 72 FINAL
Evansville 79
Wisconsin 72 FINAL
UAB 43
Davidson 95 FINAL
UCF 69
Albany 75 FINAL
Colgate 71
Longwood 66 FINAL
George Washington 91
Delaware State 76 FINAL
Iona 126
Trinity Baptist 57 FINAL
Jacksonville 69
Cleveland State 33 FINAL
Louisville 45
St Johns 70 FINAL
Minnesota 61
PSU-Harrisburg 42 FINAL
Navy 67
Richmond 72 FINAL
NC State 84
Grambling St 54 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Oakland 78
Campbell 64 FINAL
Ohio State 91
Goucher 43 FINAL
Towson 97
Bryant 47 FINAL
Vermont 73
Miami-Ohio 63 FINAL
Virginia Tech 78
Mount St Marys 49 FINAL
Wake Forest 83
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Yale 82
Youngstown St 66
Canisius 60 FINAL
Cornell 67
Va Military 72 FINAL
West Virginia 103
Lehigh 86 FINAL
DePaul 74
UC Riverside 62 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 66
Morehead State 77 FINAL
Marshall 68
Miss Valley St 52 FINAL
North Texas 67
UNC-Asheville 75 FINAL
South Carolina 89
Tenn Tech 65 FINAL
SE Louisiana 86
Texas Southern 59 FINAL
SMU 72
Radford 50 FINAL
TCU 74
TX-Pan American 48 FINAL
Utah 85
Wayne St-NE 69 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Kansas State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 70
Northern Ill 49 FINAL
Iowa 70
Fla Gulf Coast 45 FINAL
Green Bay 59
Carroll (MT) 52 FINAL
Montana 75
Florida A&M 33 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
Auburn 71 FINAL
Oregon State 69
Eastern Ky 73 FINAL
Southern Utah 64
Stetson 41 FINAL
Wyoming 65
Northern Ky 60 FINAL
Eastern Wash 81
Utah Valley U 60 FINAL
Idaho State 57
Florida 44 2nd Half 6:11
Georgetown 44
Northwestern 37 2nd Half 4:29
Northern Iowa 56
Georgia 49 2nd Half 10:34
Gonzaga 60
Cal Poly 33 2nd Half 15:07
California 36
Utah State 45 2nd Half 10:05
UC Davis 46
Arizona 26 1st Half 2:48
San Diego St 29
Alabama State 15 1st Half 3:22
North Dakota 40
Portland State 16 1st Half 12:52
CS-Northridge 10
Tulsa 10:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Pacific 10:30 PM
Missouri State 11/27/14 1:00 AM
Colorado State
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Kennesaw St 74 FINAL
Seton Hall 77
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 55
Illinois-Chicago 40 FINAL
Northwestern 61
UT Martin 75 FINAL
Samford 79
Niagara 63 FINAL
Binghamton 52
Radford 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 72
East Tenn St 69 FINAL
Indiana 97
North Dakota 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 52
Marshall 49 FINAL
Cornell 58
Oral Roberts 43 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 54
LSU 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Boise State 59 FINAL
Yale 53
Evansville 39 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 83
(4) Tennessee 63 FINAL
Chattanooga 67
Delaware State 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 73
Bradley 74 FINAL
Columbia 81
Providence 56 FINAL
Dayton 72
Presbyterian 43 FINAL
Xavier 45
Albany 64 FINAL
Canisius 59
VA Commonwealth 48 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Alabama A&M 44 FINAL
Alabama 75
Colgate 35 FINAL
(22) Georgia 66
Memphis 75 FINAL
Southern Ill 82
Oakland 64 FINAL
(16) Michigan State 79
Utah Valley U 49 FINAL
UC Davis 59
Butler 62 FINAL
BYU 81
TX-Pan American 45 FINAL
(6) Texas 72
McNeese State 27 FINAL
(7) Texas A&M 93
Milwaukee 80 FINAL
Marquette 85
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
TX-Arlington 80
Jackson State 70 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Indiana State 74 FINAL
South Alabama 53
Kansas State 0 Postponed
Santa Clara 0
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 60
Iona 49 FINAL
Kansas 90
Fresno Pacific 39 2nd Half 9:58
CS-Bakersfield 73
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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 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm




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