Although all of Friartown were hoping that they could see Justin Minaya make mince meat out of opposing offenses for another year, the defensive stopper has decided to forego his last year of eligibility and turn his sights on pursuing a professional basketball career.
I don’t think I can remember two basketball players having as much impact on a program having only played one year there, than Justin Minaya and Al Durham. The pair of them embodied everything that Ed Cooley looks for in a player and a person and played completely unselfish basketball, embracing the team-first approach that this year’s Friars team will be remembered for.
At the beginning of the season, Minaya was almost an afterthought, starting the year coming off the bench. However, due to his incredible defense and knack for always making the correct play, Minaya forced himself into more and more playing time, eventually becoming a staple of the starting line up and personifying the grit and energy of this team. Minaya played 40+ minutes in seven different games during the season, at one point doing so in 3 consecutive Big East matches.
Minaya averaged 6.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.8 bpg, & 0.8 spg with shooting splits of 41.4%/31.7%/55.8% for the season. Those numbers don’t really jump right off the screen at you but his impact was so much bigger than those numbers.
In Big East Conference play, those numbers improved to 7.3 ppg & 6.0 rpg while shooting 38.3% from three and 63.0% from the line. Granted, that free throw percentage still has to improve but that shows that he can absolutely be a 3 and D guy on a professional level.
I wish nothing but the best for Justin Minaya, a player who will not soon be forgotten by Friartown, despite being there for such a short period of time. And now, some highlights…