Gophers basketball newcomers fitting in already

Posted on June 16th, 2009 – 5:32 PM
By Myron Medcalf

A source close to the Gophers told me Tuesday that Minnesota’s freshest faces – Royce White (Hopkins), Justin Cobbs (Bishop Montgomery in Torrance, Calif.), Rodney Williams (Robbinsdale Cooper) and Trevor Mbakwe (Miami Dade C.C.) – have all looked good in pick-up games with their new teammates.

Williams’ athleticism was apparent during a Monday game, when the freshman threw down a bunch of dunks, including a couple that he caught off of the rim. He teamed up with senior Damian Johnson. The two had a lot of fun together and tossed up a bunch of alley-oops to each other.

Cobbs, a freshman point guard, looked good, too, according to the source. Although White didn’t play due to another obligation, the freshman forward has apparently surpassed the expectations of Gophers trainers with his performance in the weight room thus far.

Mbakwe, the 6-8, 240-pound junior college transfer, displayed his strength, his best asset, during the Monday game. He’s expected to start at power forward next season. The source told me that he expects the Gophers to be at the top of the nation’s leaderboards in blocked shots and rebounds.

Also, I’m told that senior Devron Bostick has really fine-tuned his body in the offseason and is in “the best shape of his life.” Entering last season, I think Bostick didn’t fully understand what it would take to excel at the Division I level, especially in a league like the Big Ten. I think it’s a good sign that he’s already re-working his body so he can compete for a spot in next season’s deep rotation.

-I spoke with Travis Busch Monday night about his decision to transfer to Colorado State. Busch said he didn’t want to talk about his options after he lost his Gophers scholarship a few months ago because he wasn’t sure if he’d get an NCAA waiver that now allows him to play at the Division I level next season. The NCAA mandates that players transferring from one Division I school to another have to sit out a year, but Busch took advantage of an NCAA clause that allows players who have graduated with additional eligibility to compete immediately at another institution.

Busch will pursue a master’s degree in business from Colorado State, his third college. He began his career at Cal-Poly before transferring to Minnesota. The Mounds View native said CSU “felt right,” especially since Rams assistant Niko Medved was on former Gophers coach Dan Monson’s staff. Had the waiver fallen through, Busch said he favored Winona State over some of his other Division II options.

With four new players joining the team and two scholarships available at the end of last season, Busch said he figured that he might lose his full ride. But he hoped his hard work would have been enough to help him keep it. He’s excited, however, to move forward with his new team.

-Ralph Sampson III’s try out for the USA Basketball U19 squad commences Tuesday night and culminates Thursday. The 6-11 sophomore center will benefit simply by competing with so many talented youngsters. If he makes the team, he’ll travel to New Zealand later this month to compete for the FIBA championship.

5 Responses to "Gophers basketball newcomers fitting in already"

Marty McFly says:

June 16th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I’ll miss Travis. Enjoyed watching him last summer at Howard Pulley and during the season. Like Bostick, I’ve fine-tuned my body so I can watch the Gophers next season.

Marty McIdiot says:

June 17th, 2009 at 7:25 am

Your comment about Bostick is a pretty asinine one. You’ll be eating your words by the time Big 10 season rolls around.

Fair-Weather Fans says:

June 17th, 2009 at 7:32 am

Yeah Marty McFly is one of the worst types of fans you can have. Never wants anything positive to come from the team but roots, predicts, and gloats in every bad thing that happen to “his” team. Be positive about your Gophs dude! That means the whole team. LET’S GO GOPHERS! It takes a TEAM!

Deet says:

June 17th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Wow, pretty harsh criticism of McFly for making one little comment….

I’m a little confused about the presumption that Mbakwe will be starting at PF. Isn’t that DJ’s spot? If that means DJ will be at the small forward, I’m worried because of two reasons: 1) DJ is much better utilized as a 4 rather than a 3, as was proven last year when Colt and RSIII were both starting down low and DJ would vear to the perimeter and neither rebound or block many shots, and 2) Does that mean Royce comes off the bench? I find that hard to believe, considering that last I checked he was the top recruit in the Big 10. Thoughts?

myron says:

November 8th, 2009 at 10:25 am

why do you re-post this link in twitter? your are getting annoying on twitter also, too many tweets, your one of those guys who talks just to hear his own voice, your take isn’t that great. Just lame comments that don’t bring anything useful or unique.