Gopher Basketball: Will NCAA let former Louisville transfer play in Minnesota?


Dec 23, 2011; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Rakeem Buckles (4) exchanges words with Western Kentucky Hilltoppers guard Derrick Gordon (5) during the second half at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Western Kentucky 70-60. Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Rakeem Buckles, a four-star recruit and one of the top power forwards in the country out of high school  is reportedly planning to transfer to the Gophers.

The 6-foot-8 Miami native was on the roster of the Florida International University Golden Panthers this season, but sat out the season due to an ACL tear sustained in January of 2012.

Buckles hurt his left ACL as a third-year player for Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals. He then followed Pitinio Jr. to FIU. And if the reports are true, Buckles is looking to follow Pitino again, this time to Minnesota.

Without recruit Alex Foster, who had his scholarship offer withdrawn on Tuesday, the Gophers are short at the power forward position.

If Buckles successfully transfers to the Gophers, he will likely be a starter playing in a system he’s already familiar with.

Buckles averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for Louisville while playing an average of 19 minutes per contest. The absence of Trevor Mbakwe, Andre Ingram and Rodney Williams next season would give Buckles a chance to shine, but two concerns may hold him back.

Is Buckles healthy enough to play next season?

Before suffering the injury to his left ACL that put him out this season, Buckles had sustained an ACL tear in his right knee the year before. Indications are that he is injury prone, but despite sitting out a year, can the Gophers expect him to be healthy all season?

The second and biggest concern is whether the NCAA will let Buckles suit up for the Gophers.

A 2009 high school graduate, Buckles is a senior this year. Transferring to the Gophers for next season would force him to sit out another season because of eligibility rules, but even if he sat out 2013-14, he wouldn’t be able to play in the following season because his five-year eligibility window would expire.

One way the Gophers could work around the conundrum is if Buckles files for a player eligibility waiver for the 2013-14 season. He could also file a waiver for the 2014-15 season, but it’s likely Minnesota wants him to play in the upcoming season.

Predicting whether the NCAA will grant the waiver is useless, but the association did grant Mbakwe a sixth year after he tore his ACL at the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign.

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