In his three seasons as a high-scoring guard at San Francisco, he was often spotted dancing down the street on his way to class or practice. To put himself in the right frame of mind, before games he would curate weekly playlists spanning a variety of genres. The playlist content sometimes depended on who the week’s opponents were and sometimes on Minlend’s mood.
In advance of the 2020 WCC tournament, which would end up being the last week before the season shut down, Jack Harlow’s “What’s Poppin’” was the final song to pulse through Minlend’s headphones before he walked into the arena. The catchy single by the Louisville rapper includes the lyric, “I’m at the club with the basketball team / Me and the Cardinals are sharing a section.”
Jack Harlow. Ace Recruiter. Who knew?
Earlier in the week, after declaring for the Transfer Portal, Minlend listed these potential landing spots: Arizona, Indiana, Gonzaga, BYU, Butler, Arkansas and Mississippi State.
No University of Louisville.
Credit mind games.
So keep on playing those mind games together/ Faith in the future out of the now
Then there was a quick and clever plan of attack by the U of L staff in the long anticipated wake of Jay Scrubb’s decision to take his services to the play for pay level.
Minlend’s from North Carolina, and there’s a familial connection with former Wake Forest coach, now Cardinal assistant Dino Gaudio. He made the initial contact. Then Chris Mack swooped in and closed the deal.
So, for the third year in a row, the Cards add experience to the roster with one and done grad transfers. Carlik Jones. Charles Minlend Jr..
* * * * *
Watching some clips of Minlend, whom I’d never heard of 72 hours ago, a couple of things struck me.
He’s not a super shooter, though he can score. He runs the floor. He hits the boards with passion. He’s an in your compression shorts defender. He hustles.
I kept thinking about a former Cardinal, a football star too, somebody with those same attributes. But I couldn’t come up with the name.
So, I called Doc, describing the former Cardinal, to see if his memory was better than mine.
“Not the Cardinal hoopster, who ended up playing for the Dolphins,” I advised, forgetting Larry Ball’s name.
Doc kept suggesting Doug Calhoun.
“No, not Doug Calhoun. I keep thinking there’s a G in his name maybe.”
“Doug Calhoun,” he reiterated.
Doc’s usually a big help, refreshing my fast receding memory. Uh, not this time.
So, I hit the media guide, combing the fine print listing of U of L letter winners through the decades.
The G? He’s from Albany, Georgia.
Anyway, it’s his game Minlend’s reminds me of.
* * * * *
In the wake of Minlend’s and Jones’s addition to U of L’s roster, I’ve got a couple of questions.
How does Josh Nickelberry feel about these new guards being brought in?
And, is an annual influx of one and done grad transfers going to be a staple of the Chris Mack Era?
* * * * *
Meanwhile on the distaff side . . .
. . . Jeff Walz keeps harvesting the five stars.
The latest: Rising senior Peyton Verhulst.
Frankly I didn’t follow the whole Is Walz jumping to Mississippi State scenario. So I’m not sure how serious it all was.
What I wonder is what State, or any other school for that matter, could and would offer Walz that would cause him to leave this program he’s built into a perennial power?
The SEC and Big Ten schools are flush with cash, more than institutions of higher learning with any other conference affiliations. At least, until this virus-induced stasis.
But it seems as if U of L will be competitive in that regard. As for all the other peripherals — facilities on campus, playing at the Yum! in front of large crowds, competing in ACC, national stature — U of L is top shelf.
Walz is here for now. And his Cardinals are poised for another boffo season in ’20-’21.
* * * * *
Which brings me to the elephant in the room, which I’ll acknowledge but contemplate no further, because it hurts too much.
What will the next academic year look like for Cardinal sports? For sports in general?
Fingers crossed, I’m choosing to stay in the day, and contemplate that no further.
— c d kaplan