To say that it was a tough offseason for Minnesota senior power forward Trevor Mbakwe would be an understatement. On the heels of a torn ACL that robbed him of much of the 2011-12 campaign, a violation of his probation very nearly landed Mbakwe in jail.
But after avoiding jail time (he now has two additional years of probation) Mbakwe is ready to help Tubby Smith’s team get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.
The Golden Gophers, despite being picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten preseason poll, have the talent needed to make a return to the Big Dance.
And with that in mind, Mbakwe guaranteed on Twitter that if Minnesota doesn’t earn an NCAA bid he’ll repay his scholarship for this season.
In the tweets Mbakwe expressed both his confidence in and his love for his teammates, players who will need a healthy Mbakwe if they’re to be a factor in the Big Ten.
The guarantee, if you recall what former Oklahoma All-American Courtney Paris did a few years ago, isn’t as risky as one would believe.
Paris, a power forward on the Sooners’ 2009 Final Four team, guaranteed a national title to the Lloyd Noble Center crowd on “Senior Night” and vowed to repay her scholarship (approximately $64,000 value at the time) for all four years if Oklahoma didn’t win it all.
“I have a passion for our fans and university, and I want to do something special,” said Paris. “That’s why I put my scholarship on the table. I meant what I said.”
Ultimately the Sooners fell 61-59 to Louisville in the Final Four that season, and the school announced a week later that they wouldn’t hold Paris to the guarantee.
Could the same thing happen for Mbakwe if for the valiant efforts of he and his teammates Minnesota still fell short of its goal?
Guarantees have long been a “tradition” of sorts in sports, but in many cases the most an athlete would have to pay if they were wrong would be ridicule from fans, opponents and the media.
Mbakwe’s essentially written a check with his guarantee, and the hope for he and his teammates is that they (and not the bursar’s office) will be able to cash it come March.
Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.