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Trevor Mbakwe will be in a Gophers jersey for 2012-13


Mike Miller

Trevor Mbakwe’s sixth season of eligibility was a done deal in mid-March, but he finally made his return to Tubby Smith’s team official on Monday.

The Gophers’ power forward and best player announced that he’ll play during the 2012-13 season, likely elevating Minnesota to a top 25 team and giving the 6-8 rebounding machine a chance to bolster his status among NBA scouts. He had been considering a jump to the pros, but elected for another college season instead.

He announced the deed via YouTube, but those disinclined to watch video, here’s the standard statement:

“I have decided to remain at the University of Minnesota and am looking forward to the upcoming season,” Mbakwe said. “I think it is beneficial for many reasons. It gives me the opportunity to play another year of college basketball and hopefully contribute to a team that showed it can be dangerous. It also provides me with the opportunity to leave the university with a Master’s degree. That means a ton to me. Not many athletes have that chance to get multiple degrees during their stay and unfortunately it took an injury for me to have this opportunity but I am going to take full advantage of it.”

Mbakwe, who started his career at Marquette transferred to a Florida junior college before settling at Minnesota, tore his ACL on Nov. 27 and missed most of the season. He averaged 14.0 points and 9.1 rebounds in seven games. (Sophomore Chip Armelin had to transfer to ensure Mbakwe would have a scholarship, though.)

His return gives the Gophers (23-15) nearly every crucial player back from this year’s team that lost to Stanford in the NIT final.

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