Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/5/12
MINNEAPOLIS Trevor Mbakwe is prepared to put his money (or his scholarship) where his mouth is. Mbakwe, a senior forward on the University of Minnesota men's basketball team, tweeted on Sunday that he will repay his scholarship if the Gophers don't make the NCAA Tournament this season. "I love my teammates. They have always been there for me. If we don't make the tourney ill pay back this years scholarship. nolie gophers," Mbakwe said on Twitter. "That's how much I believe in this years team." The average cost of tuition for an in-state resident like Mbakwe would add up to 13,524, not including lodging and books, according to the university's website. That could prove to be one expensive promise for Mbakwe if his Gophers fail to make it to the big dance. Minnesota hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since the 2009-10 season, when the No. 11-seed Gophers lost in the first round to sixth-seeded Xavier. After Mbakwe went down early last season with a torn ACL, Minnesota failed to make the NCAA Tournament but instead made a deep run in the NIT Tournament, losing to Stanford in the championship Mbakwe was granted a sixth year of eligibility after his injury and has had a winding path to get to this point. The St. Paul native played his freshman season at Marquette before transferring to Miami Dade Community College for his sophomore year. He then came back home to Minnesota, where he led the Big Ten in rebounding during the 2010-11 season with 10.5 boards per game and was Minnesota's leading scorer (13.9 ppg). Along the way, Mbakwe has had his share of run-ins off the court. The latest was a DWI this summer in the Twin Cities, but Gophers coach Tubby Smith did not suspend Mbakwe for any games. In just seven games last year before his injury, Mbakwe was averaging 14.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. If the Gophers are to indeed make the NCAA Tournament and make Mbakwe live up to his promise, they'll likely rely heavy on the 6-foot-8 forward. Mbakwe followed up his tweet about paying back his scholarship by saying: "Some ppl say I'm cocky but that's not the case I just know how hard my teammate have worked and I believe in them and our coach easychoice." After last year's knee injury, Mbakwe said he feels great and has no limitations as to what he can or can't do because of the reconstructive surgery. He played just 11 minutes in the Gophers' exhibition game against Minnesota State on Thursday, scoring four points and grabbing a pair of rebounds. Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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