Last season’s 2009 Gophers men’s basketball recruiting class, once considered one of the top-25 in the nation, took another hit this week with the news that sophomore-to-be point guard Justin Cobbs will transfer to the University of California.
Cobbs came to the Gophers in 2009 along with Hopkins standout and Rivals.com 5-star recruit Royce White, 4-star forward Rodney Williams and St. Paul-native Trevor Mbakwe, who originally went to Marquette and transferred to the Gophers from a Miami Community College.
White withdrew from school in the face of pending legal issues and Mbakwe is exploring his transfer options after sitting out all of last season. With Cobbs gone, Williams is the only sure-bet to return for the 2010-2011 season.
Cobbs averaged 10.7 minutes and just 2.1 points per game this season, competing with Al Nolen to begin the year and with the emerging Devoe Joseph later in the season. According to the team, Cobbs wanted to move closer to his home in Los Angeles.
Consistent off-the-bench forward Paul Carter will also transfer next season to be closer to his family. Carter will spend his final year of eligibility at the University of Illinois-Chicago to be near his younger sister, Bria, as she battles cancer.
Carter will be allowed to play immediately next season if the hardship waiver he filed is approved by either the Big Ten or the NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement. Cobbs, on the other hand, will be required to sit out the 2010-11 season before competing for the Golden Bears.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, Cobbs mentioned that his playing style is more “open” and doesn’t fit well with head coach Tubby Smith’s systematic, slow offense. Both Carter and Cobbs were unavailable for further comment. Meanwhile, both White and Smith have said that they would be “open to talks” about a possible return for White sometime in the future.
Mbakwe considering transfer
Gophers Athletics Director Joel Maturi confirmed last week that Mbakwe has been granted permission to explore the possibility of transferring to another school. Permission was approved by Maturi, but only after Smith gave his approval.
Mbakwe was suspended for the entire 2009-10 season by Maturi, who cited Mbakwe’s unresolved legal issues.
On April 29, 2009 Mbakwe was charged with felony aggravated battery for allegedly assaulting a woman at his apartment complex in Miami
Mbakwe’s court date was pushed back on numerous occasions thanks in part to the struggle to secure witnesses’ depositions. His current trial date is set for June 7, but it is unclear if his case will be resolved in time to play next season.
Maturi has said the charge against him must be resolved before he can play for the Gophers.
According to the Star Tribune, Maturi said he wouldn’t be surprised if Mbakwe received NCAA clearance to play next season for another school without sitting out the year that is required of most transfer students. This is due to the action Maturi took to not allow Mbakwe to play, when at most schools, he would have competed under the same circumstances.
Mbakwe is thought to be considering a transfer to the University of Memphis, but has not yet been granted a full release by the University.
Both Smith and Maturi remain “hopeful” that Mbakwe will be a member of Minnesota’s basketball team for the 2010-11 season.
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