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.