If you are a fan of the Howard Pulley Pro City Summer League at St. Paul's Salvation Army gymnasium, and have had the opportunity to watch Trevor Mbakwe and Royce White play basketball, you have to believe Gophers coach Tubby Smith would have had a good chance of winning the Big Ten title a year ago with those two in the lineup.
I have been covering the Gophers basketball program since forever, and I can't believe any college basketball coach has lost two players as good as Mbakwe and White because of different legal situations in the same year.
Now comes the news that the start of Mbakwe's felony assault trial in Miami, which was scheduled for July 26 after several postponements, has been delayed again until Aug. 23.
Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi allowed Mbakwe to keep his scholarship and continue to practice but not play last year, a decision with which a lot of us disagreed.
But even before this latest Mbakwe trial postponement, because of a judge's scheduling conflict, Maturi said he would allow Mbakwe to be eligible if the trial was delayed again.
"We made the statement a year ago that we believed this issue needed to be resolved before Trevor could play," Maturi said before Monday's rescheduling. "... I have made the statement that if the trial is delayed beyond the beginning of this academic year -- and it's not Trevor's doing, meaning it's not his lawyer, but it'd only be on the side of the prosecution -- I am willing to reconsider in allowing him to play.
"I think he's unfortunately had to go through this for an entire 15-month process now. I believed it was the right statement at the time, and the right decision at the time. He was charged with a very serious offense and all of us were hopeful it would be resolved, [but] it was not. The good news is he didn't lose a year of eligibility, he still has two years to compete.
"He's done his responsibilities academically and socially, and we obviously could use him on the basketball court. I know Tubby is hopeful that that will happen."
Well, Mbakwe is in school and had over a 3.0 grade-point average this past semester. However, he is pretty bitter about not being allowed to play last year, and he told me he isn't sure he will return to the Gophers to play basketball. He was given his full release by Minnesota to look into transferring, and he visited Memphis' program last month. Georgia Tech has been among several other colleges in contact with him.
However, what the Gophers have in their favor is that unless Mbakwe gets a waiver from the NCAA, he would have only one year of competition if he transfers, but two at Minnesota if he is found not guilty.White hurt himself
Then you have the situation of White, the 2009 Minnesota Mr. Basketball, who got entangled in two legal issues and dropped out of school in the middle of the semester, even though he had a 3.1 GPA.
White really wanted to return to Minnesota, but for him to eligible this year, the university would have had to apply to the NCAA for a waiver. It's pretty obvious Smith had enough of White and didn't want him back. White admits he made a number of personal mistakes and is determined to get a fresh start.
So White is headed for Iowa State. The Cyclones will apply for a waiver to try and get him eligible for this year, something they probably won't get because White dropped out at Minnesota. He probably will have to sit out a year as a transfer.
If Mbakwe's case had been satisfactorily resolved and White not had his legal problems, the Gophers might have had one of their best teams ever last year.Jottings
Twins General Manager Bill Smith said when other GMs call him about a trade, most times they "lead into the conversation by saying, 'I imagine you don't want to trade Aaron Hicks or Ben Revere,' and I usually tell them they are correct. We have taken two high school center fielders in the past with our first pick in the draft [Revere in 2007, Hicks in 2008], we're thrilled about it. They're great-looking talents. Ben Revere was our Minor League Player of the Year last year and he hit [.379] in [Class A] Beloit. He was at or over .400 most of the season and tailed off a little bit at the end. He's an outstanding hitting prospect. Aaron Hicks is a five-tool player that we drafted out of high school in Southern California. It gives us two real good players that we'll look forward to seeing come through our system."
After a horrible start, Glen Perkins has pitched two good games in a row for Class AAA Rochester, allowing one earned run in 12 2/3 innings. Perkins could be a candidate to be recalled by the Twins if he continues to pitch well.
The Timberwolves' contracts for scouts and other basketball positions end Aug. 1. However, Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said he plans to keep most of the group he inherited from Kevin McHale. ... At $4.96 million a season, Michael Beasley will be the highest-paid player on the Wolves. ... The Wolves will play preseason home games with the Bulls and Bucks this fall, in addition to playing the Lakers in London on Oct. 4 and the Knicks in Paris on Oct. 6.
Ex-Twins Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield took part in the All-Star Legends & Celebrity softball game Monday night, and former Twin Rod Carew threw out the first pitch for the All-Star game on Tuesday.
Germany goaltender Dennis Endras, who was named MVP of the 2010 World Ice Hockey Championships and signed with the Wild earlier this month, is expected to stay in Germany to continue his development this season before coming to North America for the 2011-2012 campaign.
The Gophers applied to be hosts for the Frozen Four in 2012 and 2013, but the tournaments went to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia because the Gophers have it in 2011.
Chaska's Brad Hand is having a good year with the Jupiter Hammerheads -- the Marlins' Class A affiliate in the Florida State League -- going 5-5 with a 3.19 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings pitched. ... Ex-Gopher Nate Hanson, who was drafted by the Twins in the 28th round of the 2008 draft, is batting .235 with four home runs and 14 RBI for the Twins' Class A Fort Myers Miracle.
Pitcher Seth Rosin, who had a great year for the Gophers, continues to pitch well for the Giants' Class A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes with a 2.57 ERA. ... Ex-Gopher Michael Kvasnicka is having a tough time with the Astros' Class A Tri-City ValleyCats, hitting .175. His college teammate, catcher-outfielder Kyle Knudson, who was drafted by the Twins, is hitting .214 with two home runs and 11 RBI for Class A Elizabethton.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org