Gopher Basketball Q & A: Trevor Mbakwe Gophersports.com sat down with the eldest of Tubby Smith's second recruiting class, incoming junior Trevor Mbakwe.
Editor's Note: This is the first installment of a four-part series as Gophersports.com gets to know Tubby Smith's second recruiting class at the U of M. An on-camera interview with Mike Grimm is also included.
Gophersports: You first played at Marquette and then at Miami Dade College, how does it feel to be back playing basketball in Minnesota? Trevor Mbakwe: "It feels great to be able to play in front of my family and friends. I grew up playing against guys like Blake [Hoffarber] and Al [Nolen] and now it's going to be an unbelievable experience playing with them. I'm looking forward to stepping into Williams Arena and playing in front of everyone. It's going to be a wonderful experience."
GS: How important is it to have your family and friends at the game? Mbakwe: "It's nice. When I was at Marquette a lot of people were still able to come to my games because the distance wasn't that far, but I only played there half the year. Miami is far so my family only went to a few games, but now it's going to be totally different. I got to play in front of plenty of friends and family in high school and now they will be at my games this season."
GS: How are you liking campus life so far? Mbakwe: "It's different being here than at my other colleges. Minnesota is a whole lot bigger than Marquette. At Marquette you can walk anywhere because it's a small private school, but Minnesota is huge. I'm still learning where everything is."
GS: How was playing in the Howard Pulley league? Mbakwe: "I was on the same team as Devoe [Joseph] and we developed chemistry on the court. We lost in the championship, so we did pretty well. You work so hard during the summer and being able to play in games like the ones in the league really help show you where your skill level is at. It's a wonderful experience."
GS: What are your goals for the season? Mbakwe: "The first goal I have is for the team to win. I love winning and I know we have the guys to win. We're going to surprise a lot of teams. Personally, I want to lead the conference in rebounding. That's my main goal, but I'd also like to average a double-double a game. Overall, just to win. Winning takes you everywhere."
GS: What are your career goals? Mbakwe: "My career goal is to eventually play professional basketball. It's difficult to do and a lot of people aren't able to do it. I feel like I need to stay hungry and work hard in order to play professionally one day."
GS: Is there anyone you pattern your style of play after? Mbakwe: "There are a lot of people I pattern my game after. There are a lot of undersized forwards who make it into the NBA like Craig Smith of the Clippers. It also helps that when Coach Smith was at Kentucky he taught a lot of undersized power forwards, who eventually made it to the next level."
GS: What are you looking forward to most this season? Mbakwe: "I played in the Big East and now I want to play in the Big Ten. I want to play with my teammates and build chemistry with them on and off the court."
GS: How do you psyche yourself up before a game? Mbakwe: "I listen to music and joke around with my teammates. However, when the start of the game gets closer you have to get your mind right by studying what the other team's going to do. You can have fun, but you need to know when to focus and when it's time to get serious."
GS: Do you have a favorite musical artist? Mbakwe: "I like Jay-Z and Lil'Wayne. I like a little bit of everything, but those two are my favorite musicians."
GS: What is your favorite food? Mbakwe: "I love chicken."
GS: Do you have a favorite TV show? Mbakwe: "My favorite TV show is Law & Order actually. I love the initial mysteries and trying to solve each crime."