Time, justice system will determine the outcome of Trevor Mbakwe’s felony battery case

Posted on August 3rd, 2009 – 5:32 PM
By Myron Medcalf

What’s up? I’m back.

I’ve been gone for nearly a month now on an extended stay-cation. I took some time off to hang out with family, friends and an assortment of challenging golf courses, while gaining a greater appreciation for stay-at-home parents after a three-week stint at home with my toddler. Wow, she has a ton of energy. How do you do it, full-time moms?

I read your blog comments, criticisms, praises and “Dude, where are you?”emails, but I really wanted to take advantage of my time off – for once – and just chill out for awhile.

But I made time to go to Howard Pulley pro-am games and watch all of the new Gophers basketball players compete. I talked to coaches, parents and players. I scoured the Internet for college basketball info/news, while my 14-month-old daughter attempted to utilize my new laptop as a personal punching bag.

It was a smooth break. But just when I thought everything was calm, news broke last week about a felony assault charge against top recruit Trevor Mbakwe.

Let me just say this: Mbakwe, like any American in any other criminal case, is innocent until proven guilty. That said there’s nothing good about this right now. The buzz surrounding Minnesota basketball hasn’t been this high in years. The fact that the status of the top recruit in the top recruiting class of Tubby Smith’s tenure is in jeopardy at least for the next couple of weeks doesn’t help Gophers supporters focus on the potential positives of the upcoming season.

I don’t know how many of his teammates even knew anything about his situation. I asked Royce White about it last week, and he said he didn’t know Mbakwe was dealing with anything.

Smith didn’t allow Gophers players to do interviews during the final games in the Howard Pulley league late last week.

I’ve spoken with multiple Gophers coaches. They believe that their guy isn’t involved. They’re very hopeful but also realistic about the possibility that things could go the other way, even as they support Mbakwe.

I think we’ll know soon what really happened that night and whether Mbakwe was involved. He has an Aug. 26 court date in Miami. I’ve spoken with multiple people connected to Mbakwe, and I can tell you that there are those who believe he’s 100 percent innocent and those who believe he may be involved. Regardless, it’s up to the justice system now.

But losing Mbakwe would put a huge dent in Minnesota’s potentially stellar lineup, but more importantly, it would seriously damage the young man’s life. In the end, however, he may be completely exonerated.

Here are a few things to note from the police report related to the felony battery charge against Mbakwe:

The assault victim described her assailant as a 6-6, 190-pound black man with a thin build. She suffered a laceration on her left eyelid after the suspect allegedly punched her in the face two times. When officers arrived, she refused to allow them to transport her to a hospital, choosing instead to go on her own. The police report lists her injuries as minor. (We know, however, that the woman suffered a ruptured sinus and fractured cheekbone.)

In other Gophers news:

-Based on the team’s incoming and returning talent, junior forward Paul Carter appeared to be the guy who would get left out of the mix heading into the summer. After watching him in Howard Pulley, however, I’m not so sure. He’s bulked up to more than 200 pounds after joining the Gophers as a 6-8, 185-pound juco transfer. And he’s quicker and more agile. It will be hard to keep him off the floor.

-Lawrence Westbrook says that he’s lost 35 pounds this summer, but also added that he’s stronger and faster on a recent Facebook post.

-Tubby Smith hosted an overnight Father-Son camp Friday and Saturday. He tweeted this Monday: “What a great Father/Son camp we had this past weekend. Before you know it school will begin. Go Gophers!”

-Williams Arena will have a new floor next season, but it will also have new basketball hoops, according to Gophers spokesman Matt Slieter. The Gophers will compete on larger, rollaway baskets, a la the Minnesota Timberwolves, during the upcoming season.

34 Responses to "Time, justice system will determine the outcome of Trevor Mbakwe’s felony battery case"

Todd W says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Not a lot to say other than that you have to hope for the best in Trevor’s case. I sure do hope it wasn’t him who assaulted that woman. I also can’t believe westbrook has lost 35 pounds!! That is absolutely nuts. There can’t be too much of him left as he is truly closer to 5’9 than his listed height. Finally, I don’t like the decision to bring in new baskets. The rims on the old baskets with that “thicker” rim gave us a distinct advantage over other teams who didn’t see those too often. Go Gophers!

TarverStachguy says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Glad to have you back updating the gophs and summer events. Thoughts on the development of Sampson/Iverson. I hope to see the big jump this year from one to take over as the clear front runner for the center spot. It doesn’t look like either will be leaving early!

bummer to hear about Mbawke. hope for the best, but these things never tend to go well.

Marty McFly says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I can’t believe Trevor will be found guilty. He is too good a person. I don’t know if this is racial profiling or what, but for him to do something like this is completely out of character.

Let’s get this hearing going and then dismiss the charges. It has got to be weighting heavily on Trevor and entire Gopher family.

Myron, please let me know as soon as you know anything.

One thing I don’t worry about is Lawrence Westbrook. He has got the best guidance in the world in his father. I believe he was down at IMG working with recent NBA draftees. Didn’t his father send him down there?

Thanks Tubby for the Father-Son camp. Tubby is truly an amazing man.

Marty McFly says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Myron, glad your vaca was enjoyable. Welcome back, we missed you.

KatoHoops says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Trevor is like the Incredible Hulk. Slim? He’s got muscles everywhere and is like 230 pounds.

*groan* says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Trevor, while having the potential to be a solid player, is far from the “top recruit” in this class for Tubby.

Do you follow this team at all?

Marty McFly says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I am more concerned about Trevor the person than Trevor the basketball player.

Juice says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 8:59 pm

From what I have seen of Trevor’s demeanor on the court has been nothing less then positive… that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have done this. When Trevor matched up with Sampson this summer he further exposed Ralph’s soft side and pounded him on the boards and went through him with ease on offence. I don’t see Sampson’s role or playing time being much more then last year. With dynamic players like Royce, Johnson, Carter and Mbakwe (if innocent) their will be less need for a lackadaisical center like Ralph.

Paul Carter has improved his game and body as much humanly possibly over the past 4 plus months – very impressive, he will be on the court and should have a steady role off the bench.

Cobb’s is a true point guard – strong and gritty player looked like a guy who could manage/lead the team w/in a couple of years, something we have been missing. I hope to see him push Nolan, but that’s a lot to ask of a freshman. Al had a poor second half of the season, but he will always be a relentless defender.

Look for Blake and Devoe to fight for minutes off the bench… Both were shooting well throughout the Howard Pulley League – It’s pretty simple for those two, if they can hit 3′s with some consistently and open up the floor they will see minutes, if not they can expect to be sitting on Big Jon and Kevin Payton’s old seats.

Look for Iverson’s role to diminish slightly, he will be lucky to average 10-12 mins a game. I could see him leaving the team (sadly, because I like what he brought to the team early last year).

Rodney Williams is a very, very special athletic talent – hopefully he can develop that talent into becoming a special player…

Juice says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Reply to *groan*: Yes, Trevor is the top recruit – closely followed by Royce and distantly from Rodney. http://twitter.com/MnHoops

Rick says:

August 3rd, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Yes, Trevor is the best player coming as for what he is now, as you woudl expect with the experience he has ahead of White, but White has the higher upside…so you’re both right.

TJSweens says:

August 4th, 2009 at 8:39 am

I have also read reports of a man of similar description on a bicycle committing other assaults in the area at times Trevor was not even in Miami.

the Loon says:

August 4th, 2009 at 8:44 am

Hey Marty, “racial profiling”??!!?

Is that the new “excuse” for criminal behavior? Broken cheekbone and broken sinus cavity sounds like more than the police being in error. Somebody gave the woman a serious punch or two in the face.

BW says:

August 4th, 2009 at 9:23 am

Hopefully Cobbs has the type of game to push Nolen for the starting spot. I don’t care if Nolen has experience, he was flat awful at the point the second half of last season. He looks like a good energy/defense guy coming off the bench… just like Westbrook.

Start Joseph at the 2-spot. He’s got more talented than Westbrook and can actually create his own shot, but he’s not a point guard. Westbrook’s best stretch of basketball last year was when he came off the bench and didn’t have the opponent’s best perimeter defender on him.

Dan88 says:

August 4th, 2009 at 9:33 am

Hello McFly, anybody home? How can you claim racial profiling, which implicates the police are in the wrong, when the victum gave the police the description of her attacker???? I’m so sick of this crap, sometimes bad people do bad things, no matter their color, and they get arrested for it. If you don’t want to get arrested, don’t committ crimes. You’re an idiot McFly.

JR says:

August 4th, 2009 at 9:57 am

Don’t forget Nolen’s do in the first half of the season, I’m looking for him to get back to that level. Joseph makes so many mistakes it makes me sick. He does not make his teammates better and he needs a lot of work yet. If he is a starter we are in trouble.

Royce is a smart player, sees the floor well – great passer.

JR says:

August 4th, 2009 at 9:58 am

*dont forget what Nolan did in the…

norm hanson says:

August 4th, 2009 at 10:08 am

Hopefully, his denial of doing the assault will be supported by the facts determined by the courts although it does sound like that may well be an uphill battle for him. If the allegations are found to be true, then that begs the question as to why in the living hell do Tubby Smith and Tim Brewster waste their time recruiting athletes with no sense of boundaries and civil behavior towards women. There must a few good athletes out there who do understand boundaries and respect for women, aren’t there. And don’t give that well worn and stupid justification that is is a cultural thing or whatever. Again, why in the living hell do they even recruit these baggage laden kids…and spare me the old Clem Haskins crap about helping out kids form challenging backgrounds and all of that. We simply don’t need or want those kind of folks at the U of M no matter how well they can shoot the basket or catch the ball.

BW says:

August 4th, 2009 at 10:22 am

JR: Aren’t players supposed to get better as the season goes on? Aside from the Louisville game, there was a huge dropoff in Nolen’s game once the Big 10 season started. Do you suppose that had anything to do with the level of competition? It got so bad that he couldn’t even get the team into an offense (especially against a zone) or even get himself open. I sure hope he’ll become a point guard.

norm?? says:

August 4th, 2009 at 10:25 am

When has a brewster recruit ever been accused of being inappropriate towards women? And how could Tubby ever foresee something like this happening to Mbakwe? All of the info out there right now makes it sound unlikely that he did this. Hopefully the facts will show his innocence, but if he did do this obviously he is a bad person and will probably never play organized basketball again.

JR says:

August 4th, 2009 at 10:43 am

He’s not the first player to have a slump… Who can explain what happened to his game/confidence during a season… but that doesn’t mean I’m writing him off for next season. He can play at the Big10 level.

Norm- What is the Brewster connection, what players have had such issues? As far as Tubby, nothing would give him reason to think Trevor would do such a thing, if he did at all.

littlebigboy says:

August 4th, 2009 at 11:01 am

JR. you are pretty harsh on a true Fr. He will be much better. Especially if you go by the HP league.

hebgen2f says:

August 4th, 2009 at 11:07 am

Norm, are you just a Gopher hater or just plain stupid. You can’t fix stupid! Tubby is the real deal and 100% class. The same is true for Brewster, he is just not as experienced. Now that the incoming class is pretty well set, except for Trevor, what is going on with new recruits? What are the prospects of getting any committs over 3 stars? Thoughts?

erik847 says:

August 4th, 2009 at 11:12 am

Hebgen; I think you’re right. Norm is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I think the 09-10 season will be great, but remember it is still a young team. Tubby is one of the best ever at making in game adjustments. I too am concerned over the lack of recruiting. No Barnes, or another Joseph, or Vander? Need to get the pipline loaded!

Derek says:

August 4th, 2009 at 11:18 am

Badger Myron must be giddy of this news as the regular be a disappointment again for him.

Jeff from Stillwater says:

August 4th, 2009 at 11:33 am

Thanks for the new williams arena court update Myron! Not so sure I’m keen on the rolling baskets.

I hope Trevor is innocent of all charges, he is a great player and I’m told a very respectful kid.

Go Big Gold!

BW says:

August 4th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Derek: Umm… What? Was that english?

JR says:

August 4th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

littlebigboy: I did watch Canada get hot from deep a couple of nights at HP, which was good to see. I also watched him repeatedly get beat on the other end of the court (by better/faster guards). Too much dribbling to set up a play for himself, then taking it to the hole into two or three defenders.

vant0037 says:

August 4th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

As far as racial profiling goes (ahem, The Loon), it has nothing to do with whether or not a crime occurred. That’s the entire problem with it…whether or not a crime actually occurred, racial profiling is a problem because of what the police do after a crime has occurred. There’s far too many in the general public who assume that if you’re arrested, you must be guilty. For Trevor’s sake as a person, I hope things work out for him.

twinstalker says:

August 4th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

The problem with eye witness identification is that when someone thinks she identifies someone through a photo (that’s the case here), then the photo becomes her memory. Leading, of course, to horrendous results. In that sense, Trevor’s in trouble, because now she’ll likely ID him as the person in her memory (of the photo, of course).

royb.free says:

August 4th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I just hope the justice system has it’s chance to see this situation through, good or bad.

Steve says:

August 4th, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Myron,

Whats the deal with Harrison Barnes? Is he going to Duke? Are the Gophers still a possibility?

JimBob says:

August 4th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Don’t these cops in Florida know any better? I was just watching something on TV a while back, that look at why and how unreliable first-hand witness accounts can be. A psychologist concluded that you should never show someone a lineup (photos in this case) unless the actual perpetrator is included. People choose whoever looks the closet, and then sticks to their story regardless of facts. This is not the kind of kid that would commit this kind of crime-period.

Marty McFly says:

August 4th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

cud b racial profiling…

JR says:

August 5th, 2009 at 9:24 am

35 lbs… I thought he was moving towards the Nate Robinson look, but WOW is right. No way he could be stronger when he was already ripped at 220, but must be going for speed for post college ball.