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Trent Lockett, Golden Gopher Basketball and the Case of Not Enough Scholarships

As I am sure nearly all of you are aware, Trent Lockett is transferring out of Arizona State. Lockett is a former Hopkins star who is reportedly leaving ASU to be closer to his ailing mother. Assuming this is the primary and/or only reason for Lockett to be leaving ASU with one season of eligibility remaining then coming to the University of Minnesota is not only the most logical destination, it is really the only school that puts him close enough to be with his mother on any given day.

But the Gophers are running into a scholarship problem if they want to add the former ASU scoring forward to their 2012-13 roster. Chip Armelin is leaving the program freeing up one scholly. While this may seem to make the problem go away, it only brings us back to even with the extra year granted to Trevor Mbakwe. Another scholarship is still needed to add Lockett. Here is the scholarship grid for next season as it stands today...

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
SR Trevor Mbwake PF X
SR Rodney Williams SF X
SR Julian Welch G X
SR Andre Ingram PF X
JR Austin Hollins SG X X
JR Maverick Ahanmisi PG X X
SO Maurice Walker C X X X
SO Elliot Eliason C X X X
SO Oto Osenieks F X X X
SO Andre Hollins G X X X
SO Joe Coleman SG X X X
FR Wally Ellenson SF X X X X
FR Charles Buggs PF X X X X
SO Kendal Shell PG walk walk walk
JR Chris Halvorsen F walk walk
Scholarships Used 13 9 7 2
Scholarships Available 0 4 6 11

So the question comes down to, what will have to happen for the Gophers to add Trent Lockett (with a scholarship) to the roster? There are really only a couple of options...

One possible option is to appeal the NCAA for a 14th scholarship. There might even be a couple of angles here. The first is that the Gophers were not prepared to add Mbakwe and his extra scholarship to the 2012-13 roster. So it is possible they would give Minnesota a one-year waiver so we could add our incoming freshmen and the newly granted extra year (and the scholarship) for Trevor Mbakwe. The other option is to play the sympathy card with Lockett transferring back home to be near his ailing mother. Lockett has already earned his degree and should a silly little thing like scholarship limits get in the way of allowing him to be near his mother?

This possible solution seems like a long shot at best but it has occurred in the past. If they are allowed a 14th scholarship, they would be required to redshirt someone and have only 13 scholarship players "available" during the season. Considering the depth we anticipate this team having next year that shouldn't be a problem. To be honest I know very little about how rare this is or what our chances are of gaining this scholarship advantage.

The next solution is to have another player currently under scholarship transfer out. There are a few players who stand to be losing playing time as they get nearer the end of their careers but the idea that we are running off players who committed here (and we committed to them) so we can bring in a one-year boost is not something you want to get in the habit of doing. Tubby has already been criticized for the number of transfers in the last couple years, for which he has taken heat. Now just because we are upgrading this time doesn't mean we want to be seeing a lot of this. With that said here are a few potential transfers candidates, after the jump...

PG - Maverick Ahanmisi - To be honest, he likely would not have been a Big Ten player were it not for one of Tubby's transfers out (Justin Cobbs) two years ago. And the reality is that few want to a junior, 3rd string, point guard. Barring injuries or a remarkable turnaround, that is likely Mav's fate. I am not particularly a huge fan of Ahanmisi's game and I expect he will contribute very little next season. But with that said I do not want to get caught with our pants down again and not have a point guard should we have some injury problems. You can move guys around at every other position, but we learned the hard way that you absolutely need to have enough true point guards on the roster. Andre Hollins will be our starting point, Julian Welch will be your back-up but I wouldn't feel too bad about having Ahanmisi as a third. He probably isn't thrilled with the idea of being 3rd so I do think he is the most likely to transfer. He could use next year as his redshirt year and still have two to play somewhere.

PF - Andre Ingram - Also a guy who stands to lose a lot of playing time were Lockett to become a Gopher. Ingram played some outstanding minutes in the NIT but his minutes will certainly fall behind Mbakwe, WIlliams, Lockett, Eliason and probably Walker's too. The problem here is that Ingram is going to be a senior and it is rare to see a senior-to-be transfer out. I'd be kind of surprised to see Ingram as the man transferring.

F - Oto Osenieks - Playing time, again. Lockett would basically supplant Oto as our shooting forward and he would be further buried on the depth chart. Osenieks did redshirt so he would lose a year but he could transfer and still have two years to play (or go play JUCO for a year and then two years to play elsewhere). Or he could stay and still have two years to play after Lockett and Williams graduate. I have a feeling that Oto is not a transfer candidate but you never know.

PG - Julian Welch - With the emergence of Andre Hollins as the unquestioned starting point and subsequent diminishing minutes for Welch, maybe playing time becomes something he wants more of. The problem here, like with Ingram, is that Welch is a senior. He could redshirt a year somewhere else and then have one to play in 2013-14, but this seems unlikely and certainly not ideal. Maybe he is malcontent or maybe he sees his valuable role as backup point and scoring guard off the bench.

G/F - Joe Colelman - Personally I think this is crazy and I see no reason why Coleman would be considering a transfer. But his name has come up on message boards so I'll mention it here. Maybe Coleman wasn't happy to see his minutes diminish as his productivity slipped in the last half of the Big Ten season. But getting nearly 20 min per game as a true freshman is nothing to sneeze at and it is pretty easy to see that he was struggling down the stretch, about the same time Andre Hollins started to play much better. Regardless, he still played a lot and he obviously figures heavily into the future of Gopher basketball. I'd be shocked if he was desiring a transfer and I'd be shocked if Tubby let him out of his scholarship without a fight. I see this is a 1% chance of happening and I'd much rather keep Coleman for the next three years than have Lockett for one. I'm almost embarrassed to be writing about it.

After that I don't expect you would see anyone else as potential transfers. Mbakwe, Williams, Hollins, Hollins, Eliason, Walker and the incoming freshman all seem like they would have little to no reason to transfer. Of the names above I would peg Ahanmisi as the most likely to transfer and the rest seem unlikely to me.

What is going to happen? I think it is most likely that Lockett ends up playing for someone else. I don't see the NCAA giving us waiver and I just don't know that we will see another transfer (thought it is possible).