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2012-13 Player Previews: Minnesota Golden Gophers

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High-level player previews and season expectation for each scholarship student-athlete on Minnesota’s 2012-13 roster are included below. Players are listed in one of three sections: Point Guards, Bigs or Wings.

This year’s team has enough experience and skill to produce Tubby Smith’s best year since he’s been in the Twin Cities. However, whereas most have described the team as having great depth, we believe there are currently 8 players that belong in the regular rotation.

At the end of this article, we offer our preferred lineups (although we fully expect the Minnesota coaching staff to use the bench far more).

POINT GUARDS

Andre Hollins

6’1”, 200 | Sophomore
21.1 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.8 apg

Dre is the team’s best go-to scorer as he’s able to score in various ways. He gets nice elevation on his jump shot and is accurate out to well past the 3-point arc. In addition, Hollins can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. We expect he’ll finish stronger and more consistently as a sophomore.

Last year, Dre made just 40.5% of his 2-point attempts (team average was 50.6%) and that must improve. Another area for improvement is reducing turnovers (26% turnover rate). Hollins had just 0.85 assists for each turnover.

As he’s entering his second year at Minnesota, Dre’s profile including last season’s numbers point to an impressive sophomore year. The obvious growth in confidence that Hollins exhibited late last season will carry over well.

Expectations: 11-14 ppg; improved A/T ratio; eFG% increase of 2.5%+; under-90% FT%.

Julian Welch
6’3”, 195 | Senior
24.7 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.9 apg

Welch is an excellent spot up shooter and can hit from mid-range off the dribble. He fought through injuries last year and was still one of the biggest contributors to the team. The Gophers can’t afford to have him sitting on the bench too often. We believe he should play the role of backup point guard, but also get time alongside Dre Hollins as shooting guard. Very important player and  underrated by most.

Expectations: 8-12 ppg; lower 3FG% due to high comparison (43.8%); lower TO Rate by 3-5%.

Maverick Ahanmisi
6’2”, 192 | Junior
13.3 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.6 apg

Despite some limitations, Ahanmisi does play with a lot of heart. We’d have him as a fill in option should Andre Hollins or Julian Welch go down, but suspect that Tubby Smith will play him for 10 minutes or so in most games.

In seven career starts against Big Ten teams, Ahanmisi doesn’t have a win and has gone just 9/40 (22.5%) from the field. His turnover rate improved as a sophomore, but it’s still far too high and although he can knock down an open triple, he finished the year below 30% in each of his first two seasons.

He does provide Minnesota with an experienced point guard option should they run into injury problems.

Expectations: 2-4 ppg

BIGS

Trevor Mbakwe
6’8″, 245 | Senior
28.7 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg

Mbakwe is coming off an ACL injury and it could be awhile before he’s feeling completely comfortable on the floor, but even at 80% he’s be better than most guys at 100%. Absolutely ferocious on the boards, we expect he’ll again be one of the best rebounders in the conference.

Thanks to his long wingspan and athleticism, Trevor can handle playing center for Minnesota, but with Elliot Eliason and Mo Walker also available he may find most of his time at power forward. We’d like to see what Mbakwe and Rodney Williams can do along with three guards on floor, but a question coming into the season is how often Tubby Smith will utilize such a lineup.

Regardless of where he plays, Mbakwe should be on the court as much as he’s able to be. He’s a game changer and leader on the floor.

Expectations:  11-14 ppg, 9-11 rpg

Elliot Eliason
6’11”, 260 | Sophomore
15.1 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg

He’ll never be known for being graceful, but Eliason’s size is enough to get him minutes. He put together superb rebounding numbers last year and this fall looks much stronger and even a bit taller. When Eliason and Mbakwe are in the lineup together, the Gophers should be able to keep the number of second chances for the opposition lower than last season.

Two areas where Elliot must improve are turnovers and fouling. We believe these will still be issues for him in 2012-13, but less so than last year.

Expectations: 4-5 ppg, 5-7 rpg

Maurice Walker
6’10”, 289 | Sophomore
Redshirted in 2011-12

Big Mo’s freshman year ended in December 2010 due to a PCL injury. He’s ready for action this year and provides a different look at center than Eliason. Walker is an immense presence who can bang down low and secure rebounds despite a lack of lift.

His touch is very good for someone his size and he could turn into a nice scoring option for Minnesota. If Mo can stay healthy and get his conditioning up, he’s a difference maker. Really nice potential and could be excellent on the offensive glass, but probably a year away.

Expectations: Anywhere from 4-8 ppg and he should produce a couple of standout games.

Andre Ingram
6’7″, 213 | Senior
8.8 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg

Ingram transferred in from Butler Community College (Kan.) before last season and provided some solid minutes off the bench late in the year. He’s got a history of injuries that may continue to nag, but is a strong and tough interior player with good athletic ability.

He’ll be called upon to help off the bench and provides another option should one of the other bigs go down. His job will be to defend, rebound and take care of the ball when it’s in his hands.

Expectations: 2 ppg

WINGS

Oto Osenieks
6’8”, 205 | Sophomore
11.1 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Oto was needed inside last year and will probably be called upon to play a couple of different roles this season. He was brought into the program as a perimeter threat, but was stuck inside much of last year. He gave a good effort on defense, but ideally we’d have him playing out on the wing on both sides of the court.

Osenieks turned the ball over a lot last year and shot just 11/41 (26.8%) from 3-point range and 16/34 (47.1%) from the line. We attribute these poor numbers largely to inexperience and nerves. While he’s still not looking consistently comfortable on the floor this fall, he’s a very good shooter.

With the lack of proven 3-point shooters this Gopher team has, getting Osenieks some experience and opportunities to build his confidence before the Big Ten season begins could help down the stretch. Oto needs to be confident in his shot and good things will happen.

While we see him as a reserve player at this point in time, he’ll probably get a fair amount of floor time to prove himself from Tubby Smith. Osenieks is capable of having a game where he knocks down 4 or 5 3-point shots and keys a victory for Minnesota.

Expectations: Anywhere from 3 to 7 ppg; dramatic increases to his 3FG and FT percentages.

Rodney Williams
6’7”, 200 | Senior
31.9 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg

Williams took a big leap forward as a junior, but he can’t let up. He needs to consistently produce and fully embrace a simple fact: he’s an incredible basketball player.

When he’s in a groove and playing with confidence, Rodney is a special player. Sure, he has his faults: his perimeter shooting is not strong and free throws are a source of frustration. However, his size and athleticism is such that he can be a star without taking 3-point shots and making only 60% of his free throws.

Potentially playing with both Mbakwe and one of the two big centers in the lineup also on the court, the coaching staff needs to find ways to keep Rodney involved in the offense.

As a junior, Williams played more minutes than he did during his freshman and sophomore years combined. While his handles aren’t great, we believe as a senior he’ll be able to create off the dribble a bit more and is capable of putting together an all-conference season if he can keep the fire going strong all year.

Expectations: 11 to 15 ppg and more recognition of his defensive play. The national folks know Rodney can dunk with the best of them, but this year he should further prove his value on defense. We project his offensive efficiency to go slightly down, but his overall Value Add to increase.

Austin Hollins
6’4”, 185 | Junior
28.4 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Austin was terrific overall last year, but must be consistent. On defense he uses his length well and on offense he shot the ball with high accuracy, including 51/138 (37.0%) on 3-point attempts. Hollins and Julian Welch were easily the most valuable players on last year’s team after Rodney Williams.

Austin’s usage rate was under 18% and in another year as a senior he’ll need to increase that figure based on how the roster currently projects. This year as a junior, usage of 17-19% is fine as long as he is knocking down the deep ball at a percentage as good as, or better than, last year’s.

We’d like to see better consistency and a little more aggressiveness from Austin this year. He’s not the flashiest player, but he can make teams pay if they don’t respect his athleticism.

Expectations: 10 to 12 ppg; team leader in 3-pointers made

Joe Coleman
6’4”, 200 | Sophomore
18.8 mpg, 5.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg

Joe is an aggressive attacker that can find his way to the rim and draws a lot of contact. Coleman was a strong kid coming into the program a year ago, but is even bigger this year. He’s fearless when taking the ball inside and that’s exactly what the Gophers need him to do.

His perimeter shooting is not good and this season it’s not needed. He’ll want to continue developing his outside shot, but in games this season Minnesota needs Coleman to concentrate where he excels – attacking the basket.

If he capitalizes on offensive opportunities when they’re there, but doesn’t push things when they’re not, this can be a very nice year for the sophomore.

Expectations: 7 to 9 ppg; Top 15 in conference free throw rate

Charles Buggs
6’8”, 198 | Freshman

Buggs may find himself playing inside more often than out, but offensively he’s a face up guy with good range. He’s ridiculously long and quite athletic; an intriguing prospect.

We think it will take some time for Charles to catch up defensively at this level, but if the Gophers need him to play, his length may help mitigate him being out of position.

Buggs looks like a versatile 3/4 that can run well, score and defend multiple positions. Give him a little time, though.

Expectations: 3 to 5 ppg

Wally Ellenson
6’4”, 200 | Freshman

Ellenson possesses amazing leaping abilities and a strong work ethic. While he can impress with his dunks, Ellenson can also heat up from the outside with a nice shooting stroke.

Wally suffered a broken hand in practice and is likely out until sometime in December. It’s possible the Gophers would look to keep him out of action for the entire season in order to preserve a year of eligibility, but if they need minutes off the bench from a tough energy guy who can shoot, he’ll be ready to go.

Expectations: Dependent on recovery and rehabilitation from injury.

Late Night Hoops’ Preferred Lineups:

LINEUP 1 LINEUP 2
Andre Hollins Andre Hollins
Julian Welch or Joe Coleman Austin Hollins
Austin Hollins Rodney Williams
Rodney Williams Trevor Mbakwe
Trevor Mbakwe Elliot Eliason or Mo Walker
SUBS: Julian Welch or Joe Coleman, Elliot Eliason and Mo Walker SUBS: Julian Welch, Joe Coleman and Elliot Eliason or Mo Walker

In lineup 1, Welch provides a third 3-point threat and another ball handler, whereas Joe Coleman provides an attacking guard.

In lineup 2, the benefits of Eliason vs. Walker need to be compared relative to the opposition.

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Recruiting Notes – USA Basketball Mini-Camp for 2015 & 2016 classes [Oct/12]

Earlier this month, LateNightHoops.com attended the USA Basketball Men’s Development National Team mini-camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. There, 44 of the country’s top players from the 2015 and 2016 high school classes were on hand to be introduced to USA Basketball and to be evaluated by the staff, who was led by head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City HS/Iowa City, IA). Coach Showalter has led the USA Developmental National Team to four straight gold medals as head coach from 2009-2012.

If you have questions or comments, including inquiries about other players that attended the camp but are not included in this article, please send us a message via our Contact Us page.

TWIN CITIES & SURROUNDING AREA TALENT
Henry Ellenson
(Rice Lake, WI)
6’9”, 250 | Rice Lake HS | Class of 2015

October 2012 Notes
You may hear Ellenson called a center by some, but that’s selling him short. Physically he looks the part and he can certainly battle on the blocks, but his skill and athletic ability sets him far apart from other kids his size.

Henry is an excellent shooter with plenty of range well past the three-point line, but has also worked on developing his game on the blocks. Over the next few years he should be able to continue adding to his arsenal of offensive weapons, which is a scary thought for teams trying to defend him.

His strength and quickness are not areas of concern, but there is opportunity for him to be elite if these areas progress nicely over the next few years. In college, there is no reason Ellenson can’t be a 3/4 switchable type who can score at multiple levels and defend multiple positions.

Now, at this point in time you wouldn’t have him dribbling the ball all the way up the court on a 3-on-1 fast break, but there’s not a lot I’d give him a red light on doing.

At a minimum, he’s a very good college prospect. With hard work, I can see Henry winding up as a top 10 player in the 2015 class.

Other potential factors such as good coaches, supportive family and older brothers who also play basketball (the oldest brother, Wally, is a freshman at Minnesota and will be able to share his D1 experience and Henry’s father played college ball for Marquette and Wisconsin) all seem to favor the likelihood of success for Henry Ellenson. He’s legit and the sky is the limit.

Amir Coffey (New Hope, MN)
6’3”, 160 | Hopkins HS | 2016

Amir Coffey
2016 Amir Coffey

October 2012 Notes

The first thing that stands out about Amir is his length and how well he uses it. With the ball, he’s able to create passing lanes and make plays that others can’t. On defense, his instincts combined with long arms result in frequent steals and deflections.

He’s a good scorer, but with more consistency and aggressiveness he could become excellent.

Coffey can play off the ball or at point and his ball handling, passing and feel for the game is especially propitious considering he’ll likely wind up standing a solid 6’7”.

I’m very high on the future prospects for Amir and can see him at the college level as a versatile wing and distinguished defender.   Similar to Ellenson, Coffey’s family (father Richard played for the Gophers and his older sisters are excellent basketball players) and other factors should help him along the way.

With Amir now being just a freshman at Minnesota high school basketball powerhouse Hopkins and there being a special class of 2014 in Minnesota, it may be a little while before the masses recognize how good Coffey can be. Nonetheless, we here at LNH are sold and look forward to watching his progression over the next several years.

USA Basketball U16 Mini-camp, Selected October 2012 Notes – Public Version

Diamond Stone (Milwaukee, WI)
6’10”, 252 | Dominican HS | 2015

Stone can be as good as he wants to be. The big man controls space inside, but it’s his hands and seemingly delicate touch when shooting that are most impressive. Elite prospect. Likeable demeanor and court presence, he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. Great voice too – post-playing career as an on-air talent awaits Mr. Stone.

Guys I Want With Me in a Brawl – Horace Spencer (State: PA/Height: 6’8”/Weight: 210/Class: 2015) and Andrew Fleming (TN/6’4”/185/2015).

Spencer had me worried about his safety – unquestionably willing to sacrifice his body to make a big play. It often looks as if his life depends on denying the opposition’s shot. He’s absolutely a full tilt player with good length. Offensively he’ll clean up the glass and put it back, but has a lot of room for improvement with the ball. However, Spencer’s ability to run the floor, block shots and rebound, as well as his borderline-crazy effort earns his game a ton of respect.

Coming off the bench for M33M this summer, we saw Andrew Fleming at several tournaments across the country providing a spark for his team. Sometimes it was relentless defense or a hustle play to save a ball heading out of bounds. Other times it was a deep three or an aggressive drive the bucket where he was able to absorb contact and finish.

Fleming is a good shooter, big time worker and fearless. In Colorado, we saw more of the same – tireless effort from a very competitive kid.

Jaw Dropper Harry Giles (NC/6’8”/205/2016)

Giles is no longer a slim, wiry young kid. It appears he’ll be able to add a lot of strength by the time he reaches college.  Very athletic, runs the floor well and is everywhere on the court. Would think it may be difficult to get him out of ACC country, but schools should sure try. He’s excellent at this point, but I believe he’ll be ridiculously good in a few years. I’m sold.

Who is That?! – Malik Monk (AR/6’3”/170/2016)

Monk was not a guy I was there to see, but his play dictated that I had to watch him. Time and time again he impressed when finishing at the rim, pulling up for jumpers and passing. His athleticism really stood out on certain plays – had several “woah, he just did that?” moments.

Wise Beyond His YearsJosh Langford (AL/6’5”/200/2016)

Strong all-around player who made smart decisions throughout the weekend. I think he projects more as a 2/3, but I really liked what he did when making decisions with the ball in his hand. Will be interesting to see if he continues to hold an edge in court IQ as time goes on, but right now looks like a guy who you’d want as your team captain.  Tough, strong and smart kid.

Other Selected quick comments:

  • Charles Matthews (IL/6’4”170/2015) – Matthews is 6’4” and a long combo guard who looked great scoring off the dribble. Worked with the point guards at USA basketball mini-camp and has the potential to be a dangerous point guard. May wind up as a wing, but if he becomes a good defender and continues developing his lead guard skills, he could be spectacular. Lots of possibilities for Matthews.
  • Simeon’s “next up” include D.J. Williams (IL/6’7”/186/2015) and Benjamin Coupet (IL/6’6”/180/2016). Both are long wings that can run and score in transition. Two to keep a close on eye.
  • Ivan Rabb (CA/6’8”/191/2015) is legit. Super active and a ton of fun to watch. It’s also obvious he’s having a lot of fun while on the court. Could wind up in conversation of top 5 in his class.
  • The camp’s youngest player Seventh Woods (SC/6’1”/168/2016) is unquestionably a superior athlete. Explosive. Has work to do if he’s going to play point in college, but at a minimum he’ll be one of the most athletic players in his class regardless of position. Head-shaking highlight-maker.
  • Eric Davis (MI/6’3”/161/2015) played a lot of point guard over the weekend, but he’s a combo guard that is always looking to score.  His shot wasn’t consistently dropping this weekend, but he showed no fear in taking the ball to the rim against an impressive collection of lengthy wings and big men who were there to challenge him on defense.  Quite animated and competitive. Lots of Big Ten interest.
  • Josh Jackson (MI/6’6”/175/2016) passes the eye test with his length and athleticism. Sunday morning during a four-on-four fastbreak/transition drill he fired up the entire gym with an impressive two-way display.  First on offense, he drove the lane and slammed home a contested dunk.  Quickly, his team had to turn their attention to defense.   Jackson turned on the jets for a sprint down the length of the floor and leaped high off the ground to block a dunk attempt from behind, drawing cheers from all of the players and setting the tone for the session.Not sold on his jumper, but he was effective slashing to the bucket this weekend.  Length and quickness allows him to come up with blocks, steals and boards in bunches.  Loads of realizable potential; future impact Big Ten player?
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Fact Check! Minnesota’s New AD & VCU’s Practice Facility

October 25, 2012

FACT CHECK: University of Minnesota: New AD Teague Responsible for VCU’s New Basketball Practice Facility

Is this claim factual? No.

How outrageous is this claim? It’s quite ridiculous. At worst it’s intentionally misleading; at best and more likely, it’s a mistake that’s been left uncorrected for a long time.

Without going into further background/private conversations, it’s something the University of Minnesota should finally correct.

According to this Norwood Teague page at www.gophersports.com:
“Known as a visionary leader on many fronts, Teague initiated an extraordinary campaign in the fall of 2011 to construct a $10 million practice facility – the Franklin Street Gym. Today, the practice facility serves both the men’s and women’s basketball programs at VCU, as well as other sports.”

Minnesota wants to talk up their new athletic director. The U stating that Norwood Teague had an “ultra-successful” run as director of athletics at Virginia Commonwealth University doesn’t bother me. Is “ultra-successful” going a bit overboard? Probably, but it’s subjective.

However, when the Gophers claim that there is a new practice facility being used by the VCU basketball programs, it’s either factual or it’s not. In this case, that claim is untrue.

A hot topic that has surrounded Gopher basketball has been the need for a new practice facility. In fact, the former AD at Minnesota took a lot of heat for not getting anywhere with a new facility.

Now, Teague takes over and receives praise for his experience in successfully doing exactly what Minnesota has needed – having a new basketball practice facility built.

The facts are that there is no new practice facility and VCU basketball is still in “a gym commonly known as being musty, old and tattered.”

Now it’s late October 2012 and the new AD at VCU has been trying to lock down a lead gift for the project to get the fundraising started. Two nice gifts are rumored to be close to being pledged, but it could be many years before VCU has a new basketball practice facility.

There have been a number of questionable attributions to Teague by the U of M and some of the press, but let’s stay away from most of those for now and let him do his job. We’ll soon see if he can get some things done in the Twin Cities that are truly deserving of praise.

But please, Minnesota, how about a quick edit on Mr. Teague’s biography page?

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Mbakwe Reaches Civil Settlement With Victim, Avoids Jail

October 19, 2012

This morning in Miami, a court handed down penalties to University of Minnesota basketball player Trevor Mbakwe after he violated terms of his probation in a felony battery case. Mbakwe, 23, had been found guilty of felony battery this past February and was facing a wide range of potential punishments in the case after a DUI arrest this summer.

While Mbakwe’s legal cases appear to be sorted out now, whether the NCAA had all relevant information provided to them when they approved a Five-Year Waiver Rule for the star forward remains a question for some.

The most significant development this morning was that prior to criminal court going into session, the civil attorney for the victim of the felony battery was present and met with Mbakwe’s criminal defense attorney.

During the meeting, a confidential civil settlement was reached but the terms were not disclosed to the prosecutor or the criminal court. In return for the promise of what may be a substantial retribution payment to the victim if Mbakwe is an NBA first round draft pick, the victim’s attorney requested that the criminal court limit Mbakwe’s punishment to additional probation.

The 6’8″, 245 power forward figures to get some consideration from NBA teams despite a history of injuries and criminal offenses. LateNightHoops.com projects Mbakwe as a potential second-round draft pick in the 2013 draft.

Probation for Mbakwe was extended and is now scheduled to end in two years instead of this spring and the type of probation was enhanced to require regular reporting.  He is also currently on probation for two Minnesota cases in different counties.

After his September DUI conviction and hearing for a probation violation on a harassment conviction, Mbakwe has been required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and see a sports psychologist. The judge in Miami instructed him to continue with both of these requirements and directed Mbakwe to attend at least three AA meetings per week.

In addition, 480 hours of community service were ordered to be performed over the next two years.

The University of Minnesota had not issued a public statement as of the time of this release. It is unclear whether they intend to do so.

Copyright 2012 | PAA, Inc. | All Rights Reserved

LateNightHoops.com

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Minnesota’s Largest Exposure in Mbakwe Mess Still Looming?

Minnesota’s Largest Exposure in Mbakwe Mess Still Looming?
October 18, 2012

University of Minnesota star forward Trevor Mbakwe may receive additional punishment on Friday from a Miami-Dade court related to his felony battery due to a summer probation violation. While the punishment could include jail time and further negatively affect the Minnesota Gophers basketball team, there may be an exposure outside of the courts for the university that is more significant than anything the judge will hand down this week.

My reporting on the felony issue over the years has been met with denial and attacks, but this week, after LateNightHoops.com broke the news of the latest troubles in Miami, people are beginning to understand the history and severity of this matter.

It can be difficult to determine the reasoning of the NCAA when they decide to grant a sixth year of eligibility to a student-athlete, especially when it doesn’t appear that any of the listed criteria for a Five-Year Rule Waiver are met.

With regard to Mbakwe, I had put his chances of being granted a waiver at 2% when he went down at the Old Spice Classic last November. The reasoning for this was that I firmly believed that the felony battery case, which continues to be misreported by most media outlets, would likely end in a plea agreement and a finding of guilt by the court.  It did.

Still, the waiver was granted.

If the felony charge had been dismissed, my view would have been completely different.  Imagine an argument that could have been made by the University:

Mbakwe was falsely accused. It was a case of mistaken identity. We held him out for a year because it was the right thing to do for the school and for him. He was never convicted. Surely this legal issue was no fault of his own and therefore the NCAA should grant him an additional year of eligibility.

This argument may be compelling to a third party such as the NCAA. Technically, this is an argument that could have been made and while misleading, might not contain any blatant lies.

In the state of Florida, a plea of no contest is available and that is what Mbakwe pled in February of this year. A no contest plea is frequently used by defendants in Florida and simply means the defendant does not wish to contest the charges. Before accepting the plea, the court would have made certain Mbakwe knew he was accused of assaulting a young woman and would be found guilty by the court of a second degree felony.

Another practice that is not rare in Florida is for a judge to “withhold adjudication”. This means that while the court finds an individual guilty, he is not “convicted”. This can be beneficial for the defendant in that certain civil rights may be preserved (i.e. voting, right to bear arms. Editor’s Note: Our understanding is that Mbakwe is registered to vote in Minnesota and is considered to be a “convicted felon” under state statutes that cover voter eligibility despite the withhold as long as he remains on probation; therefore, it appears he’s currently unable to legally vote, so the withhold doesn’t have the same benefit as it may if he lived in Florida).

So, was Mbakwe convicted of the felony? No (although he may be this Friday). Was he found guilty? Absolutely.

Now let’s reconsider a possible Minnesota argument if the facts are more clearly laid out to the NCAA:

We held him out for a year because it was the right thing to do for the school and for him. He was later found guilty of felony battery. You should grant him another year since we decided to sit him because of a felony charge that he was ultimately found guilty of.

This argument isn’t so compelling.

Now, I don’t know what the discussions between Minnesota and the NCAA were. I do know that the Five-Year Rule Waiver being granted was very surprising to me and based on the facts at the time (Mbakwe had been found guilty prior to Minnesota’s petition), it brings into question what information was discussed when the NCAA was making their decision.

On course, the argument for a waiver may have been completely unrelated to Minnesota’s decision  to sit Mbakwe in 2009-10.  I doubt it, but I do not know.

If Minnesota’s request for a Five-Year Rule Waiver excluded relevant information, there may be reason for deep concern. The question would then be whether it was a case of ignorance or intentional deception. Neither one would be looked upon favorably.

Copyright 2012 | PAA, Inc. | All Rights Reserved

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Minnesota Star Forward Returns to Miami Court

Minnesota Gopher Star Forward Returns To Miami Court
October 17, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – University of Minnesota basketball star Trevor Mbakwe was required to make a personal appearance in a Miami court this morning.  The sixth year senior was there to answer to a probation violation after a felony warrant was issued earlier this month.

Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez confirmed that during today’s appearance a probation violation hearing was set for this Friday, October 19, 2012. Per Ms. Chavez, it will be up to the court to sentence him after the hearing on Friday.

According to Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith last Friday, Trevor Mbakwe is “lucky to still be around here.”  Smith’s comments were in response to questions about a July driving under the influence (DUI) arrest and subsequent conviction in September after LateNightHoops.com broke the story early Friday afternoon.

However, it did not appear Friday that Smith knew the status of the Miami felony case. Per @NadineBabu’s Twitter while Ms. Babu was at the team’s media day, “Tubby said he doesn’t know if this DUI has anything to do with violating probation, ask his lawyer.”

In February of this year, Mbakwe was found guilty of second degree felony battery in Miami related to an attack on a young woman in April, 2009. This summer’s DUI in Minnesota was a violation of probation in that felony case.

The DUI also represented a probation violation related to a harassment conviction late in 2011.

While the respective courts have handed down punishments for the DUI conviction and harassment probation violation already, far more serious penalties could be forthcoming this Friday in Florida.

Copyright 2012 | PAA, Inc. | All Rights Reserved
LateNightHoops.com

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Minnesota Basketball Players Leading Teams Across The Nation in 2012-13

Alec Brown
Alec Brown of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The state of Minnesota continues to produce impressive basketball talent, including those who stay home and play for the Gophers. However, with so many skilled players and some excellent high school and AAU programs, there are numerous student-athletes from the state that join Division I programs across the country.

In 2012-13, a number of Minnesotans will be difference makers at their respective schools. Today, we highlight several players who look primed to take sizable steps forward in their collegiate careers.

Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State
Junior, Forward
2011-12: 26.2 mpg, 11.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg

Not recognized nationally or in Minnesota as much as is probably warranted. Extremely efficient offensive player who shot 67.1% FG% last year.  Bjorklund doesn’t turn the ball over and is a very good on the offensive boards  Tough, solid interior guy.  The Gophers will host NDSU on December 11.

Alec Brown, UW-Green Bay
Junior, Center
2011-12: 31.3 mpg, 13.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 89 blk

Now a veteran at UWGB, he’ll need to lead a UWGB team that should be much improved compared to last year’s 15-15 team.  His game should continue to expand under third-year head coach Brian Wardle (Marquette, 2001).  It’s a huge year for both Brown and Wardle and one in which both of them are capable of earning national recognition.  With his skills and a bit more bulk, Brown could find himself on NBA draft boards.

Sam Dower, Gonzaga
Junior, Center/Forward
2011-12: 18.1 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg

Quietly very productive off the bench last year, he’ll look to prove just how good he can be in 2012-13. Zags center Robert Sacre was drafted by the Lakers this summer, giving Dower a great opportunity to impress.

Carlos Emory, Oregon
Senior, Forward
2011-12: 17.9 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg

High-flying 6’6” forward played his first year of D1 basketball last year at Oregon with Gopher transfer Devoe Joseph.  Emory is a big time athlete that will regularly make the highlight reel.

Ross Travis, Penn State
Sophomore, Forward
2011-12: 17.9 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg

With Tim Frazier on the team and transfer D.J. Newbill now eligible, Travis may not see his offensive usage go up tremendously, but he’ll be improved as a sophomore and should have a strong career at PSU.  Minnesota plays Penn State in Minneapolis on either March 2 or 3 (date to be determined).

Jonah Travis, Harvard
Sophomore, Forward
2011-12: 6.5 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg

With an always impressive motor and significant added strength, it’s only a matter of time before Jonah shines at Harvard.

Shelby Moats, Vanderbilt
Sophomore, Forward
2011-12: 4.1 mpg, 0.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg

Moats didn’t see much playing time on a highly talented and senior-heavy team last year, but will be called upon often this year.

Kevin Noreen, West Virginia
Sophomore, Forward
2011-12: 12.0 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Received a medical hardship waiver for 2010-11 season and played just 23 games last year before breaking an ankle.  Noreen can be a prolific scorer and a match up problem for opponents at 6’10”.

In addition to the names above, there are returning players that look to build on their past success at the Division I level and may already have a bit more name recognition with followers of college basketball than those players listed above:

Mike Muscala, Bucknell, Sr, F/C: 17.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg. Muscala has impressed every year, but was superb as a junior. A strong senior season for the Bison could help his chances of reaching the NBA.

Nate Wolters, South Dakota St., Sr, G: 21.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 5.1 rpg. Wolters is an ultra-productive point guard with good size. Some NBA teams will want to consider him next summer. Wolters & SDSU visit Williams Arena on December 4.

Trent Lockett, Marquette, Sr, G: 13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg (with Arizona State). Big guard could be a difference maker in Milwaukee.

Jared Berggren, Wisconsin, Sr, F/C: 10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg. Versatile 6’10” big man looks to build on solid 2011-12 performance.  The Gophers play at Wisconsin January 26 and host the Badgers on February 14.

Mike Bruesewitz, Wisconsin, Sr, F: 5.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg. Bruesewitz is a high-energy worker who may increase his offensive production now that fellow Minnesotan Jordan Taylor has graduated.

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Mbakwe May Face Additional Punishment in Miami Felony Case

MINNEAPOLIS — According to Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith, Trevor Mbakwe is “lucky to still be around here.”  Smith’s comments were in response to questions about a DUI arrest this summer.

The DUI arrest triggered probation violations in two other criminal cases, one of which could cause Mbakwe to miss time.

Mbakwe was found guilty of second degree felony battery in Miami this past February and now faces the possibility of additional penalties in that case.

LateNightHoops.com spoke on Friday with Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez who said that Mbakwe “is scheduled to personally appear in our Court to answer to the violation” next Wednesday, October 17.

Ms. Chavez also said that her office did not have an offer to resolve the matter, so it is doubtful that Mbakwe will take a plea on Wednesday.  Therefore, the State Attorney’s Office anticipates that on Wednesday the case will probably have a future date set for a probation violation hearing.

The DUI arrest was made on July 1, 2012 and Mbakwe, 23, pled guilty on September 10, but the university had not disclosed the matter publicly until questions arose after LateNightHoops.com broke the story early Friday afternoon.

Since Mbakwe suffered a season-ending knee injury last winter, he has been found guilty in three separate criminal cases.

Coach Smith did say Mbakwe was initially suspended from all team activities when the DUI incident occurred, but he is now being allowed to participate.  The senior forward took part in the team’s scrimmage Friday night and was moving around well in his first action since undergoing ACL surgery late last December.

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