Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe recently said his life was threatened following the assault of a woman who said he punched her multiple times last April near their Miami apartment complex.
Earlier this week, Mbakwe said people tied to the alleged victim sent him messages via Facebook shortly after the assault, which prompted a felony assault charge against the former St. Bernard's/Henry Sibley star. Mbakwe is scheduled to go to trial next month. He has maintained that he's innocent.
"Some of her people, they sent me some threatening messages on Facebook," Mbakwe said. "They roamed around the neighborhood searching for me. One message said that 'I’m a dead man walking.'"
A Sunday story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal published parts of the alleged victim's December 2009 deposition. The paper also printed her name. Mbakwe has repeatedly stated this summer that he may transfer to Memphis.
According to the story, the woman said a friend showed her pictures of the Miami Dade basketball team, which Mbakwe played for during the 2008-09 season, on her iPhone shortly after she was assaulted.
"Right when I saw him, I recognized him," [the woman], according to the Memphis newspaper.
The woman's friends searched for Mbakwe but never found him.
Mbakwe said he wasn't running from police after the assault but worried about his safety when he received the threats. According to the Commercial Appeal, the alleged victim told authorities that she was unaware of any threats made against Mbakwe.
As far as basketball goes, Mbakwe said he's still "50/50" on returning to the Gophers this fall. "[Memphis] is still high on my list," he said.
But a number of recent developments have certainly complicated a potential move to Memphis.
His trial has been moved to late August. While all parties say that the trial will go forward next month, I've been hearing the same promise for the last year. It's hard to believe that this trial will be completed before the start of the next season, based on all of the maneuvering that's happened so far.
He'll need an NCAA waiver to play next season if he decides to transfer. That process will take time, something another trial move will take away from him.
Mbakwe said he hopes to make a decision about his future in the coming weeks.
"[The new trial date] makes it difficult, but I’ll probably be more clear about what I’m going to do in the next couple weeks," Mbakwe said.
Memphis self-reported a secondary violation last week after Tigers head coach Josh Pastner attended one of Mbakwe's recent Howard Pulley games during a Twin Cities recruiting trip. And Matthew Dunn, one of Mbakwe's coaches at Miami Dade, now works for Memphis as the Tigers' practice facility and equipment manager and is also a key witness in Mbakwe's trial.
But Mbakwe doesn't think his relationship with Dunn, the coach's connection to his criminal case and Memphis' interest in his services will affect his legal situation.
"He’s been one of my witnesses from Day 1," Mbakwe said. "It wasn’t nothing like .. he’s recruiting me [to come to Memphis]. That’s not the deal at all."
Gophers recruit Oto Osenieks is currently in Latvia awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the NCAA, which would not allow him to enroll in summer school with the rest of Minnesota's 2010 recruiting class.
Osenieks, who starred for Brehm Prep (Carbondale, Ill.) last year, said earlier this week that he "didn't understand" the NCAA's reasoning for refusing to give him the green light. But he's confident that he'll receive word soon, after he recently submitted additional paperwork.
6-7 forward can contribute immediately to a Gophers rotation that needs more depth.
Vince Taylor to University of Illinois-Chicago?
According to an ESPN report, Gophers assistant Vince Taylor is a finalist for the University of Illinois-Chicago job, which became available when Jimmy Collins recently announced his retirement after 15 years on the job.
Taylor plays a vital role on Minnesota's staff as a recruiter and assistant. It would be a tough loss for the Gophers but not unexpected with Taylor's experience level and interest in other jobs.
Former Gophers forward Paul Carter transferred to University of Illinois-Chicago earlier this summer.
When going pro goes badly
Remember Jeremy Tyler? He was the junior from San Diego who skipped his senior year of high school to sign a deal with a pro team in Israel. Tyler quit the team before the end of the year. Now, he's headed to Japan.
When Tyler made the move, many thought that he was setting a trend. But his problems should deter other high school stars from making similar moves.