Trevor Mbakwe’s DWI Again Raises Major Character Issues: Can He Survive the Season?

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 15th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Expectations run high at Minnesota under sixth-year head coach Tubby Smith. For the first time in Smith’s tenure, the Gophers have a team capable of competing at the upper reaches of Big Ten competition. Point guard Julian Welch returns to pilot a balanced offensive attack. Austin Hollins provides an energetic presence on both ends of the floor. Unrelated Andre Hollins, fresh off a breakout performance in the Big Ten Tournament, is ready for bigger and better things in 2012-13. Future NBA forward Rodney Williams offers an explosive brand of athleticism mostly unseen throughout the Big Ten. This is a very good team. Believe it. But if there’s one development that demonstrably thrusted Minnesota onto the national radar this offseason, one personnel boost that gives the Gophers just enough to get over the hump, it’s Trevor Mbakwe, whom the NCAA announced over the summer has earned a sixth year of eligibility and will play out his final season in Minneapolis this winter. For Gophers fans, what matters is how the senior forward will perform this season, and how his return will help their chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament. But Mbawke’s history is long and complex, a quarrelsome tale of transfer and injury and violations.

After another criminal misstep, Mbawke skated the outer boundaries of Smith’s disciplinary tolerance (Photo credit: Chris Chambers/Getty Images).

I raise this issue because it relates to Mbakwe’s status for the upcoming season. More importantly, his troubled past is a huge reason why, after pleading guilty in September to a DWI committed in July, Mbakwe almost saw a promising sixth season – and an even more promising one for the Gopher program more broadly – end before it began. Smith very nearly booted Mbakwe from the team after learning of his summer transgression, which was just the latest in a repeated history of brushes with the law. Following his 2009 transfer to Minnesota from Miami Dade (FL) Community College, his second such switch after leaving Marquette in 2008, Mbakwe sat out the 2009-10 season due to legal complications surrounding an assault case while simultaneously fending off an allegation that he violated a restraining order by contacting an ex-girlfriend on Facebook. Court officials settled on a no-contest plea in the assault case, but Mbakwe pled guilty to the harassment charge and was sentenced to one year of probation in February. The DWI settlement violated that probation, which means Mbakwe faces another hearing in Miami on Wednesday. Whatever the outcome of his next legal stopping point, Mbakwe’s actions have tested the limits of Smith’s tolerance for his behaviors.

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04.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2009

There are only FIVE DAYS left to declare, kiddies!  Get your early entry paperwork in NOW!!!

  • At least one report states that Duke’s Gerald Henderson will enter the draft.  And we thought we already knew this (about Tyreke Evans).
  • Xavier’s Derrick Brown, Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal and Mr. Game Winner, Scottie Reynolds, will all test the waters.   All three should be back in college next season. 
  • Steph Currystill thinking
  • One dude who will not go pro this year is John Wall.  Luke Winn dissects his recruitment, while Gary Parrish all but pushes him down the aisle to explore the opportunity for him to go pro.  In a separate article, Winn discusses how John Calipari’s move to Kentucky impacted numerous top players in this year’s top 50.  Speaking of which, the final Scout top 100 list is out.
  • Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct for his now-admitted verbal and physical abuse against a Cincinnati cabbie in late December.   What did it cost him?  40 hours of community service and no further “enrichment” of his current contract with Ole Miss.  Interesting.  The civil cases should be phenomenal theater. 
  • What’s going on in Gator-Land?  Alex Tyus‘ departure (transfer, not NBA) is the seventh player Billy D. has lost in the past calendar year.   
  • Purdue’s starting PG Lewis Jackson got community service and will await his punishment from Matt Painter for his recent DWI arrest on April 12. 
  • Jason Whitlock nails at least one part of this Isiah to FIU piece – the part about the strip clubs
  • Andy Staples takes a look at the boxed-in problem that side deals to the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent are causing.  Paging DeMarcus Cousins…
  • Gary Parrish believes that the 09-10 season will be much stronger across the board thanks to the return of numerous lottery picks as well as an influx of prep talent who will have instant impacts (unlike this year, for the most part).
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