Trevor Mbakwe returns to practice

The Gophers expect Mbakwe and Mo Walker back for the season.

by Andrew Krammer

Gophers basketball player Trevor Mbakwe returned to practice Wednesday after tearing his right ACL last November.

As a sixth-year senior and the team’s top talent, Mbakwe will look to lead an experienced Gophers squad following a deep run in the National Invitational Tournament in March. The team only has two freshmen this fall.

“First individual practice with the team tomorrow. I might not sleep tonight lol #anxious #operationcomeback,” Mbakwe tweeted Tuesday.

Mbakwe led the Gophers in scoring (14.0) and rebounding (9.1) when he went down after only seven games last year.

Walker injury update

Head coach Tubby Smith gave an injury update Wednesday via a Gopher Sports video.

“We had more injuries last year than we’ve ever had,” Smith said in the video. “More in the last two years than I have had in my 22 years as a head coach.”

Gophers forward Mo Walker injured his right knee in December 2010, forcing him to have surgery the following month.

Walker suffered a setback in his rehab last November and was forced to sit out all of last season.

“Last year, we thought we’d have Mo [Walker] back by the Big Ten season, and then we lost Mbakwe too,” Smith said.

Smith said he expects Walker to contribute this year, as the sophomore started conditioning with the team this offseason once his knee has healed enough.