Amid the speculation surrounding Trevor Mbakwe’s possible return to the Gophers and the administrative effects it would have on the team and its available scholarships, Chip Armelin made the foreseeable future a bit less messy by announcing that he will be taking his talents elsewhere. The U confirmed that Armelin has been granted a release from his scholarship, meaning he is officially eligible to transfer to another Division I program.
Armelin, a sophomore, never made his mark on the team that many envisioned he would, and found himself as little more than a role player by the end of the season. Displaying flashes of brilliance multiple times this season – including a 20-point outburst against Nebraska in the regular season finale – Armelin was often lightning in a bottle off the bench.
However, with the type of shoot first, ask questions later mentality that he usually displayed he was often just as dangerous to his own team as he was to his opponents. To boot, Armelin was horrific from the free-throw line, and we often cringed when he was at the stripe in tight situations. Having a strong free throw presence from your guards in major D-I basketball is almost a necessity, and Armelin was a liability in that department.
Unfortunately for Chip, he never was able to position himself as one of the first guards off the bench and found himself deep in the guard rotation by the end of the season. In fact, the writing was on the walls in terms of his standing on the team based on his playing time in the NIT, which consisted of 33 total minutes and only two points. With the Hollinses, Welch, and Coleman all competing for minutes next year, Armelin would have been hard pressed to increase his playing time.
The bigger news here is that, unlike past transfers (Royce White, Justin Cobbs, Devoe Joseph), the Gophers actually benefit from Armelin leaving the team for greener personal pastures. The possible return of Mbakwe meant that the Gophers would have been without a scholarship to give, meaning that someone might have had to have their scholarship stripped or leaned on take a transfer. Forcing guys you once recruited to essentially take a hike is bad news on the recruiting trail, so the fact that Armelin chose to leave on his own volition is good news in that it opens up a scholarship for Mbakwe and saves the Gophers in the PR department.
With a redshirt year still available, Armelin will sit out next season per NCAA regulations and will still have two years of eligibility remaining. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess, though it possible that he’ll transfer closer to home in Louisiana. Hopefully he’ll find a squad that will let him spread his scoring wings and fly. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him average in double figures once he gets significant playing time and is used as a primary scoring option. Unfortunately, Minnesota will not be the place that it happens.