The college basketball world did a slight double-take Sunday night when it was announced that Louisville had landed San Francisco graduate transfer Charles Minlend.
An explosive guard who had previously listed a final seven of Arizona, Indiana, Gonzaga, BYU, Butler, Arkansas and Mississippi State, Minlend explained in an interview with Jamie Shaw of Absolute Basketball Experience that things between he and U of L moved quickly after Jay Scrubb announced that he would be keeping his name in the NBA draft.
Minlend, who said that he was familiar with Scrubb and his game, wasn’t aware that the JuCo product was keeping his name in the draft. That led to some confusion when he saw that the Louisville staff was trying to get in touch with him. Still, he wasn’t going to ignore a new suitor of this caliber.
“I was like, ‘it’s Louisville ... I’m not going to ignore their call,’” Minlend said “I talked to coach Mack for a little bit, and the need was there. I wanted to go somewhere where I know I’m going to have an opportunity, and if I’m good enough, I get to show people what I can do. And it’s in the best conference in the country.”
A relationship with U of L assistant Dino Guadio and a close relationship former Wake Forest standout Ish Smith — who vouched for Gaudio, Mack and the entire Louisville program during a lengthy phone conversation on Easter Sunday — led to Minlend quickly going from receiving interest from Louisville to committing to being the newest Cardinal.
“I’m excited to go to Louisville,” Minlend said. “But I want Louisville to be happy that they got Charles Minlend. I just gotta make sure that I put in the work, I’m diligent, and I can help fill that need that’s there. Which is to come in, play big minutes, be a big time player, win some big time games, be on that stage and make some craziness happen. I’m excited for it.”
Charles Minlend tried to kill Stanford’s racquetball-club-looking dude. pic.twitter.com/29Ook0WV32— Rush the Other 26 (@other26hoops) December 18, 2019
Though he spent the last four years on the West Coast, Minlend is a native of North Carolina. A three-star prospect coming out of First Assembly Christian in Concord, N.C., he had scholarship offers from the likes of Charlotte, Coastal Carolina and UNC-Wilmington, but not from Duke, North Carolina or Wake Forest.
Though NC State and other power programs from the area did get involved the second time around, Minlend doesn’t hesitate when talking about how large a part getting to show the ACC powers what they missed out on played when it came to picking Louisville.
“If someone told me that I had the chance to go back to the same place where everybody saw me and everybody knew who I was, but they just overlooked me, and I had a chance to prove to them that I can do all those things that they all doubted me on — It would kill me if I decided to go somewhere else when I had the opportunity there. That was something I just couldn’t say no to.
“I get to play against all those schools that saw me and knew who I was, and no disrespect to them, but I feel like I’m good enough to play on those teams.”
Minlend was a Second Team All-West Coast Conference selection for a second straight year in 2019-20 after averaging 14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He averaged double figures in scoring in all three of his seasons at San Francisco, where he became just the sixth USF player in the last 35 years to score 450 or more points in back-to-back seasons.
Though he developed a reputation for being one of the best defensive players and attacking guards in the WCC, his three-point shooting and free-throw shooting numbers weren’t as high as you’d expect from a guard who sued as many possessions as Minlend did in 2019-20. The new Cardinal isn’t shy about addressing that issue head on.
Charles Minlend doing it on both ends for San Francisco pic.twitter.com/AFuPH4VHO8— Aram Cannuscio (@AC_Unit_) February 21, 2020
“I’m somebody who’s really, really meticulous when it comes to the details of the game,” Minlend said. “I just want to make sure that if I have a weakness, I attack it. I know what my weaknesses are. People aren’t shy to tell me what those are either. So I’m still working on those. I just want to make sure that I can score from any point on the floor and feel comfortable doing so. That’s what I work on pretty much every single day.”
As for a final message to the Cardinal fans looking to learn as much as they can about their new guard.
“To all the Louisville fans: I don’t know how many of you guys know who I am, but I’m Charles Minlend. I played basketball in North Carolina. The ACC is in my blood. I’m so, so excited to be here. If you don’t know me, I’m somebody who works extremely hard to be the best basketball payer I can be. I want to help my teammates win games and get better too. I just want to help make this a great year, and I want you guys to be happy that you got me.”
You can check out the full Minlend interview here. It’s hard to watch it and not come away extremely impressed with the newest Cardinal. He’s clearly a highly intelligent kid with a serious work ethic, two assets that should help him fit right in here.