At 6'8" and 280 pounds, Trevor Mbakwe was a formidable presence on Miami Dade College's basketball team. He was also allegedly a startling presence late one night in the parking lot of a Miami apartment complex. A 22-year-old FIU student has accused Mbakwe of assaulting her and sending her to the hospital. That hasn't stopped University of Memphis basketball coaches from apparently scouting the player. Even as he's under assault, the team seems eager to get him to transfer.
According to a story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, around 3 a.m. April 3, 2009, 22-year-old FIU student Nicole Albanese was walking toward her apartment when she heard a voice behind her ask, "Are you messed up or anything?"
Albanese replied, "No." The man then grabbed her sweatpants, punched her twice in the face, and rode off on a bicycle.
Albanese ended up in the hospital with a fractured cheekbone and ruptured sinuses. She got a good look at her attacker's face and height, and after being informed that MDC basketball players lived in the complex, she identified Mbakwe as her attacker from pictures on the team's website.
Mbakwe's trial has been oft-delayed but is scheduled to start August 23.
The pending charges haven't stopped the University of Memphis's Division I team from scouting Mbakwe, though. Coach Josh Pastner watched Mbakwe play in a summer league game, which led to a fine for violating NCAA rules.
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Matt Dunn, the team's equipment manager, will be a witness for the defense. At the time, he was a coach for the MDC team.
Mbakwe apparently went into hiding after the attack and for some reason was fearing for his life. He stayed at Dunn's apartment before getting on a plane out of Florida.
Of course, coaches at Memphis cannot comment on how much they're pursuing Mbakwe or to what degree the trial's outcome could have on his recruitment.
[Commercial Appeal: University of Memphis aide to testify in trial of potential Tiger Mbakwe]