Trevor Mbakwe, the Minnesota standout forward, made a very big promise on Twitter Saturday night. To show his confidence and belief in his Golden Gophers team he claimed that he would pay back his scholarship if the team did not make the NCAA Tournament.
“I love my teammates. They have always been there for me. If we don’t make the tourney ill pay back this years scholarship. #nolie #gophers”.
Mbakwe added “Some ppl say I’m cocky but that’s not the case I just know how hard my teammate have worked and I believe in them and our coach #easychoice”.
First off, is this considered gambling on his own team?
Attending the University of Minnesota, in-state, costs over $20,000, including room and board. That is a lot of dough. Fortunately for Mbakwe, who should have an NBA future, the rookie minimum is $490,180 next season. Now, these are all likely moot points. Even if they do not make the tournament it is unlikely Mbakwe would even pay the scholarship back. Honestly, it is probably against NCAA rules. It is in between chapter 223 and 224 in the NCAA rule book, I believe.
The more important point here is whether or not Mbakwe’s confidence is warranted?
Minnesota does have its best team of the last few years. In Mbakwe’s final season, all of the talent is in place, it seems. Obviously, it all starts with Mbakwe down low, but he is joined by another very good big man, Rodney Williams. The pair of forwards will be able to bully opponents in the paint. Their strong backcourt is the difference for this team, compared to past Gopher teams under coach Tubby Smith. Both Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins are joined by Julian Welch on the perimeter. The trio provides diverse scoring sources, and an efficient offense that was first showcased in the NIT last season.
It would appear that Mbakwe’s confidence is warranted, though maybe a bit overzealous. I have Minnesota ranked sixth in the Big Ten, and the conference could get over seven tournament bids. It is very plausible, if not likely that Trevor Mbakwe made a smart bet on his team. If not, the potentially NBA bound forward will have something to payoff with his first pro checks.