Gophers men’s basketball star Trevor Mbakwe was nearly kicked off the team following an arrest for drunken driving in July, head coach Tubby Smith said.
He was arrested July 1 on a DWI charge and pled guilty at a hearing in Hennepin County on Sept. 10, according to court records.
“He’s lucky to still be around here,” Smith said Friday during a press conference at Williams Arena.
Smith said he let Mbakwe stay on the team but only if he completed some undisclosed requirements.
“I’m not going to talk about those [requirements],” Smith said. “That’s something that’s been in-house, and we’re going to keep it in-house.”
According to court records, Mbakwe, 23, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor DWI. He was fined $300 plus court fees of $78. He was also sentenced to 30 days in the Hennepin County workhouse — two days served, 28 days stayed —and 16 hours of community service, with one year of probation.
Smith said he suspended Mbakwe from all team activities after Mbakwe “called [Smith] immediately” after being arrested in July.
Legal troubles continue to haunt the sixth-year big man, as he’s still on probation through Dec. 12 for violating a restraining order in Ramsey County.
Mbakwe’s immediate return to the Gophers was already in question because of an ACL tear he suffered Nov. 27 against Dayton. But Smith said the 6-foot-8-inch, 245-pound St. Paul native isn’t “back completely,” because he still has some requirements to fulfill.
“We’ve come this far with him,” Smith said. “I think Trevor has the possibility to make a livelihood in this profession of playing basketball, so I want to make sure we gave him every opportunity, as long as he does the things we expect and require him to do.”
The likelihood of Mbakwe missing playing time is slim, as the team has been handling the situation for three months with another month to go until the Gophers’ season opener against American University at Williams Arena on Nov. 9.
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