Mo Walker to redshirt 2011-12 season

Charlie Armitz

Gophers men’s basketball sophomore Mo Walker will redshirt the 2011-12 season. He missed the team’s first 19 games while recovering from major knee surgery.

Walker and head coach Tubby Smith spoke to the media Saturday and confirmed the decision.

“Coach kind of made the decision for me,” Walker said. “I’ve been working since the beginning of the season and the offseason to come back, but it was just decided within the trainers and myself that I would redshirt the season.”

The 6-foot-10, 289-pound forward tore his right posterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in December 2010 and hasn’t played a game since then. Prior to the injury, he had averaged 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12 games with the Gophers.

“[The trainers] just don’t feel like it’s ready,” Walker added. “They want to wait until I’m 100 percent before I play again.”

Smith said Walker suffered a minor setback in November, which caused him to miss practice for the next month.

“He was just being wasted for the year,” Smith said. “To try to play him wouldn’t be good for him, so it’s in his best interests.”

Walker said he didn’t think he had suffered a setback, adding that “it’s been pretty uphill since [the injury] happened. He also denied rumors that off-the-court issues — specifically those in the classroom — had contributed to the decision.

“My grades are pretty good,” Walker said. “Things are going well so far this semester, and they finished last semester well too.”

Despite losing Walker and senior Trevor Mbakwe (ACL surgery), the Gophers still have five healthy, active big men on the roster: Ralph Sampson III, Rodney Williams, Elliott Eliason, Oto Osenieks and Andre Ingram.