Trevor Mbakwe to play for Los Angeles Lakers

Jack Satzinger

Two and a half years after tearing the ACL in his right knee, Trevor Mbakwe finally feels like himself again.

The former Gophers power forward/center is joining the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league team after a season of professional basketball in Italy.

“I felt pretty good,” Mbakwe said. “Right now I feel like 100% as far as my explosion.”

While abroad, the Minneapolis native averaged 10.6 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game for Virtus Roma.

Mbakwe, who missed his freshman season at Marquette due to a separate knee injury, had been wearing a brace while playing. But now it’s off and he’s able to move as well as he did before the injury.

NBA teams have taken notice. Before accepting a spot on the Lakers’ summer roster, Mbakwe fielded calls from the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves and other franchises.

Mbakwe said playing overseas had its ups and downs, but he adjusted to the game well after a few weeks.

“For the most part it helped me moving forward,” he said. “The style of play is a little bit different.”

Mbakwe’s name didn’t get called at last year’s NBA Draft, likely because teams were wary of selecting an older prospect coming off two major knee injuries.

“I was able to show teams my knee’s fine, I’m healthy,” Mbakwe said of his stint in Italy. “I’m the player that they all expected before I tore my ACL.”

That version of Mbakwe projected as a first round pick in the draft.

Injury troubles hampered him from playing in the NBA last year, but Mbakwe could make a roster next season if he impresses this summer.

“If I go out and have a good showing in summer league, I have a pretty good chance to get picked up by a team,” he said. 

Click here to see highlights of Mbakwe from Europe.