Mbakwe, Williams say farewell to frustrating Gophers careers

Andrew Krammer

AUSTIN, Texas — Trevor Mbakwe walked off a basketball court for the last time in a Gophers jersey after Minnesota’s 14-point loss to Florida on Sunday.

Mbakwe paused as he hit the tunnel and looked back at the floor for a brief moment before resuming his march to the locker room.

“It’s surreal knowing it’s over,” Mbakwe said. “It still hasn’t hit me yet that my time is done at the University.”

The 24-year-old played five years of college basketball but only two full seasons with Minnesota.

Mbakwe and fellow senior Rodney Williams made their farewell speeches from the locker room after the loss.

“I’m happy to have been a part of this team, this program,” Williams said. “Every time we got down, we didn’t give up. We always fought.”

Williams, a Minneapolis native, played four years in a Gophers uniform but failed to live up to the “game-changer” label many thought he could be.

Mbakwe and Williams combined for 21 points, 11 rebounds and five turnovers in their final game.

“We respected [Florida] but obviously not enough,” Williams said.

The pair’s scoring and rebounding averages both dropped in 2012-13 from their previous campaigns with Minnesota.

Both said they will try to play professional basketball in some capacity.

Mbakwe finished his Gophers career with 33 double-doubles, including 10 this season.

“I’ll be the alumni screaming at the screen,” Mbakwe said. “I wish we would’ve gone to more [NCAA] tournaments when I was here, but it is what it is.”