Mbakwe "leaning towards" returning for sixth year

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The road-warrior Gopher men's basketball team has finally returned to Minneapolis, at least for a little while. After winning three straight NIT games on the road, the Gophers leave for New York City Sunday for their NIT Semifinal game Tuesday with Washington.

Go Gophers! Trevor Mbakwe
Go Gophers!
Trevor Mbakwe said he's "leaning towards" returning for a sixth year.
Go Gophers!

Other than the Gophers' NIT run, the other big news surrounding the team was the NCAA's decision this week to grant senior Trevor Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility in 2012-13, should he choose to return to the U.

"It made my week a whole lot better," said Mbakwe about the NCAA's ruling. "It makes my life a whole lot easier, not having to rush back and get ready for the draft... It gives me some nice options."

Right now, Mbakwe says, he's "leaning towards" returning to Minnesota next season.

"I'm leaning towards coming back for another year, but the situation is kind of complicated," said Mbakwe. "There's a lot more that needs to play out before I can make a decision."

Head coach Tubby Smith seemed optimistic that the particulars surrounding Mbakwe's situation would eventually be resolved.

"If the NCAA is willing to give someone a sixth year, they're probably willing to work with us as far as scholarships and stuff is concerned," said Smith. "We expect that everyone in our program this year to be back next year."

Mbakwe said Coach Smith has advised him that another year with the Gophers could help his NBA Draft stock for 2013.

"Yeah, [Coach Smith] said that another year could put my stock back up," said Mbakwe. "It would show [NBA} GMs that my knee is fine, and that I'm still the same player... Definitely another year could help."

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Ben and I will always be fans in Philly. Come back and bring a B10 Championship!