Trevor Mbakwe

Trevor Mbakwe has more legal issues hanging over his head

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Trevor Mbakwe’s career at Minnesota has been anything but simple.

When he first transferred into the program, he was forced to sit out for an entire season while an assault case worked its way through the Florida courts. He was accused of assaulting a woman while at Miami-Dade Community College in April of 2009, and it was determined by the University that he would not put on a Gopher uniform until his case came to a conclusion. 16 months later, Mbakwe enrolled in a pretrail program that lasted six months and required 100 hours of community service and a $100 donation to a charity in Florida.

Entering the program was not an admission of guilt, as Mbakwe maintained his innocence and a case of mistaken identity.

Things got more complicated for him in January of 2011 when he violated a no harrassment order when he contacted an ex-girlfriend on facebook. That got him kicked out of the pretrial program from the assault in Florida, meaning that he not only had to deal with the legal ramifications of messaging his ex, but he also had to once again sort out the legal issues in Florida.

Long story short(er), he was still on probation in Florida when, in July, he was arrested for a DUI in Minnetonka. And, as a result, Mbakwe has once again found himself stuck in the middle of a legal mess. From the Star Tribune:

Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Spokesperson Terry Chavez said “anything could happen” Wednesday in Trevor Mbakwe’s hearing, but this case is most likely still a ways from over.

Tomorrow’s hearing – at which Mbakwe is personally scheduled to appear — is simply a “status report,” triggered by Mbakwe’s September DUI conviction in Minnesota. Mbakwe was put on probation in Florida as part of a pretrial intervention program for a felony assault charge in 2009 and was still on probation when he was arrested in Minnesota. Chavez said the case could be set for a probation violation hearing or the attorney could ask the judge for some sort of plea negotiation.

If a probation violation hearing were set, Chavez said the sentence could range from more probation to jail time.

Need I mention the fact that Mbakwe tore his ACL in November of last season?

And if it wasn’t for that torn ACL, Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith may have ended up kicking him off the team. Mbakwe’s lucky he only lost his starting job.

“He’s doing some things he has to do that are required of him to be a part of the team,” Smith said of Mbakwe. “I know he made a mistake. We’ve come this far with him. He’s going through some (difficulties). He had a serious injury. One of the things Trevor has is a livelihood in this profession in playing basketball. So I wanted to make sure we gave him every opportunity — as long as he does the things that we expect and require him to do.”

Honestly, I feel bad for Mbakwe.

He was never found guilty in the assault case in Florida, and as far as we know, he didn’t do anything. But since Minnesota forced his hand by not allowing him to play while the legal process played out, he decided to accept a punishment instead of having the charge hang over his head while he sat on the bench for a second straight season. If he hadn’t, than the legal issues he’s currently dealing with would have been nothing more than something dumb that a lot of college kids do.

I’m not defending the decision to break a restraining order or to get behind the wheel after he had been drinking, all I’m saying is that the mess he’s made for himself wouldn’t be quite as much to deal with had he not been accused of assault in the first place.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.