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.

West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate returns to school

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The nation’s most entertaining shot-blocker is back for another season.

Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-9 center from Mali, will return to school for his junior season to anchor West Virginia’s defense for yet another season, according to ESPN.

Konate declared for the draft and went through the combine, and while his shot-blocking and intensity shined through there as it did throughout the season, he’s more of a mid-to-late second round pick than he is a first rounder at this point.

As a sophomore, Konate averaged 10.8 points, 7.6 boards and 3.2 blocks. He also shot 79 percent from the free throw line.

So let’s sit back and enjoy what we get to see for another year:

Luke Maye to return to North Carolina for senior season

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Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Luke Maye is returning to North Carolina for his senior season, meaning that the Tar Heels will have their preseason National Player of the Year candidate back in the fold.

Who saw that coming?

“I have had a great experience learning from the NBA process and growing as a basketball player during the past couple weeks,” Maye wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for all of their support. Through this process, I have decided that I am going to comeback to school to improve as a player and finish my college career. I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that I will face and there is no better group to do it with than my teammates and the Carolina family! Time to finish the right way with two of the best players and leaders that I know! Let’s finish our legacy the right way!”

Maye, who averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 boards as a junior, declared for the draft last month, but he did not get invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. The 6-foot-9 forward is a stretch four that will fit perfectly at the four for the Tar Heels this season, with Nassir Little, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams on the perimeter and a trio of sophomore bigs to handle the five.

Getting Maye back was key, but expected. UNC reaching their ceiling this season will depend on whether or not their point guard play is up to par. With Jalek Felton gone and Joel Berry II graduated, that is going to come down to whether or not Seventh Woods can handle the lead guard role or if Coby White can step in and start as a freshman.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.