By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One local basketball player who would like to play his way to the NBA: Trevor Mbakwe.

The former University of Minnesota standout has been making a name and some money overseas. His life has been changed by marriage and children, and that life has turned into a good one.

Trevor Mbakwe is back in town and playing the Twin Cities Pro-Am at DeLaSalle High School. He just finished another professional season, this one in Russia.

“It was cool. I really didn’t know what to expect. You know you hear what you hear on the news but it was a good experience,” Mbakwe said. “I was in St. Petersburg, a really beautiful city, very modern.”

He is like a lot of aspiring basketball players. Mbakwe had a shot in the NBA when he worked out for the Timberwolves and other teams. It’s the ultimate destination. But across the ocean, that’s pretty good too.

“I mean I still get Summer League offers and stuff like that, but the European schedule is so long and it’s kind of hard to turn down some offers I’ve received the last few years,” Mbakwe said. “Guaranteed deals for the shot of chasing the dream, which is the NBA.”

He’s slowly matured like big men since his days as a Gopher, and he’s learned to become a force.

“Trevor is an animal, he’s an animal. He’s a beast on the boards and defensively, and the more experience you get as a player, the game comes easier,” Jamar Diggs, director of the Twin Cities Pro-Am, said. “You odn’t have to work as hard because you work smarter.”

Things have changed in his personal life. A husband and father of two, they’re all getting educated.

“The chance of them being able to see them experience the world from all over at such a young age, that’s probably been the best experience,” Mbakwe said. My son learned German and Italian.”

And so the basketball dream that started here is still alive, for who knows how long.

“My wife says she only wants me to play for two more years. I’m hoping for at least five, five to seven more years,” Mbakwe said.

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