Trevor Mbakwe, Danny Thompson

Trevor Mbakwe’s sentence gets decided on Friday

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Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe has done a lot of dumb things during his college career.

Sending a facebook message to an ex-girlfriend that has an active no-contact order against him? That’s dumb. Really freakin’ dumb. Getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking? That’s even dumber.

But that doesn’t make Mbakwe a criminal deserving of jail time. It hardly makes him a bad person more than a college kid that needs to make a serious improvement in his decision making skills.

Unfortunately for Mbakwe, those two incidents could very well land him in jail down in Florida.

Back in April 2009, Mbakwe was arrested for assaulting a woman in Miami while he attended Miami-Dade Community College. He wasn’t initially convicted of the crime, and it very well could have been a case of mistaken identity, like Mbakwe claimed. 16 months passed and Mbakwe was forced to fit out an entire season of hoops at Minnesota while dealing with the charges. In August of 2010, without enough evidence available to convict him, Mbakwe agreed to a six-month pretrial program that burdened him with some community service hours and a fine, but was not in anyway an admission of guilt as much as it was an attempt to get on with his life and continue his basketball career.

But it was in January of 2011, not even the full six months after he agreed to the pretrial program, that Mbakwe sent that fateful facebook message and got arrested. The result? Getting booted from the program and, eventually, a no contest plea in the Florida case this past February. To spare you the legalese, what that means is that Mbakwe was found guilty of a felony battery charge, but he was not convicted and did not admit guilt. Yes, that is possible.

He was given probation as part of his sentence, which he violated when he got the DUI in July. That’s why he is currently in Florida, awaiting a decision on whether or not he’s headed to jail. Amelia Rayno of the Star-Tribune dug up what could happen during Friday’s hearing after talking to a Miami attorney familiar with the laws and the judge in this case:

Mait said Florida uses a point system to determine minimum sentence guidelines, and based on the points Mbakwe has accumulated for his offenses he could be in for a long prison sentence.

But according to Mait, this scenario is more likely: Samms will approach the prosecutor ahead of Friday’s hearing and try to work out a deal to present to the judge. This could include an alternative to jail time, such as community control (house arrest). Or it could include a modification of the probation itself, to include, for example a 30-day jail sentence (30 days being an arbitrary length).

“Generally, as long as the state’s (prosecutor) offer is a reasonable offer, the judge is going to go with whatever the state’s OK with,” Mait said.

The next question is how this will affect Mbakwe’s status on the team, but that’s another post for another day. Safe to say, Minnesota likely wouldn’t be too thrilled if Mbakwe had to spend time in jail. (Although they did say his status would be unchanged if he only received more probation.)

What has to be frustrating about all of this for Mbakwe is that it all stems from an incident that he has always claimed was misidentification. If he wasn’t faced with potentially missing the start of a second basketball season back in August of 2010, he may never have accepted any kind of punishment from that initial court case. And if he never agreed to a pretrial program, than a facebook message and a DUI wouldn’t have been anything more than a wake-up call.

Instead, Mbakwe might end up being sentenced to serve jail time on Friday.

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

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.