Armelin granted release from team

Chip Armelin’s release opens up a scholarship spot for Trevor Mbakwe if he chooses to return for a sixth year.

Minnesota guard Chip Armelin watches the Gophers continue to lose their footing March 29 at Madison Square Garden in the second half of the 2012 NIT championship game. Armelin scored two points in 33 minutes in his last five games with the Gophers.

Marisa Wojcik, Daily File Photo

Minnesota guard Chip Armelin watches the Gophers continue to lose their footing March 29 at Madison Square Garden in the second half of the 2012 NIT championship game. Armelin scored two points in 33 minutes in his last five games with the Gophers.

Charlie Armitz

Gophers men’s basketball sophomore Chip Armelin has asked for and will be granted a release from his scholarship, the team confirmed in a release Monday.

Armelin has not yet indicated a possible transfer destination. He will remain on campus through the end of spring semester.

“Chip has been a valuable part of our program for the past two seasons,” head coach Tubby Smith said in the release. “He has done everything we have asked of him, and we are grateful for his contributions to this program on and off the court. We are sad that he has elected to leave but certainly want to wish him the very best.”

Armelin averaged 5.2 points and 13.7 minutes in 38 games off the bench this season. He averaged 4.4 points in 31 games his freshman season.

The Sulphur, La., native played well in spurts but struggled for most of 2011-12. He shot 33 percent from long range and 50 percent from the free-throw line, and many of his points came on fast breaks.

He scored just two points in 33 minutes in the Gophers’ last five games at the National Invitation Tournament.

Armelin’s release will allow Minnesota to extend a scholarship to another player — possibly Trevor Mbakwe, who is eligible to return for a sixth season but has yet to announce his intentions.

On Twitter Sunday, Mbakwe posted, “Unfinished Business. I can’t go out like this.” He also tweeted that his return wasn’t yet official.

Smith said April 5 that it’s clear Mbakwe “wants to be here” after meeting with the 6-foot-8-inch forward.

Mbakwe said March 24 that he is “leaning toward” returning to the Gophers next season.

Mbakwe has until Tuesday to announce if he is staying another year instead of declaring for the NBA draft.

Regarding Armelin’s transfer, Mbakwe tweeted Monday, “Sad to see the lil bro [Armelin] leave but I know he’s going to do big things wherever he ends up.”

Armelin averaged 23.5 points and 9.2 rebounds during his senior season at Sulphur High School, leading his team to a district championship.