Months before his graduating year tips off at Churchill secondary this fall, the explosive small forward Mindy Minhas has committed to one of Canadas top university basketball programs for the 2014-15 season.
Minhas, six-foot-four, will play for the UBC Thunderbirds.
"UBC is close to home and it was a good opportunity for me and I really like the coaches there," said Minhas Friday afternoon from inside the Richmond Olympic Oval where he was talking to media during a Drive Basketball summer camp. "It felt like the right thing to do."
Minhas, 17, is close to his family and said he values the proximity between the leafy campus and his parents home. A prodigal player since elementary school, Minhas has turned heads for his inventive, relentless scoring abilities and sky-high numbers.
His summertime commitment means his final year of high school will be dedicated to two things, he said. "Now all I have to focus on is basketball and academics. I wanted to get this thing off my mind where Im going to go next year and thinking about colleges. Now thats off my mind."
In his Grade 11 year with Churchill secondary, Minhas led the Bulldogs to 13th place at the AAA senior boys B.C. championship and was named the tournaments Most Inspirational Player after averaging 22.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.8 steals in five games. Churchill was named the Most Inspirational School and its coach, Rick Lopez, the senior high school boys coach of the year.
A product of Drive Basketball, a sports academy co-founded by UBC alum Pasha Bains, Minhas will play for the T-birds alongside Luka Zaharijevic, a Kitsilano rival and Drive teammate, who begins his rookie season at UBC this September.
Zaharijevic said he is extremely excited to see Minhas as a T-bird. The two joined Drive in elementary school at the same time, playing half-court basketball together. "We would stay after practice and play one-on-one for a couple of hours while blasting some old-school Tupac songs. That is when we formed a brotherly friendship and great chemistry."
Minhas almost certainly could have entertained other offers, but the 17-year-old said Bains played an influential role in his decision to compete for the T-birds.
"I trust Pasha with a lot of things and I asked him for guidance and advice and he told me it was the right thing to do. Since Pasha played for Kevin, I think he knows what Im going into."
A pivotal mentor in Minhass basketball development, Bains said UBC coaches Kevin Hanson and Vern Knoop were paying close attention to the prospect for several years, especially this most recent season.
"They had a fondness for his game right away and theyve watched him play extensively throughout the summer. They knew of him when he start in Grade 6. They were very, very thrilled when Mindy decided to give his commitment," said Bains.
"They watched Mindy a lot his junior year and every time they were watching him, they were texting me to praise him and compare him to this player, that player and say hes better than this guy or that guy was at the same age."
They made one comparison to Navi Sekhon, a 1993 graduate of Delta secondary and the Pacers all-time leading scorer who put up record numbers at the AAA provincials when he netted an astounding 64 points in one game.
"He was a scoring legend at Langara," Bains said of Sekhon, who was later recruited by the University of Calgary Dinos. "That is really high praise."
Hanson described Minhas as a "true scorer."
"He's got height, he's got length and he's got the ability to rebound," said the T-birds coach in a news release. "Mindy passes the ball very well for someone who's a scorer. He's a local guy we're very excited about.
"We know what he can do. We are very confident he's coming in here to be an impact player at UBC so we're thrilled to have him join our family."
"Were really proud of the guy," added Bains. "As far as the Drive community, the Churchill community and the Indian community, he represents a lot of different people. Especially how he plays, he shows so much heart and determination. Hes got a lot of kids who look up to him and for him to stay close to home, hopefully it might get other kids to want to try to do the same thing."
Minhas had one more thing to say. "I want to thank Mr. Lopez, Mr. Dykstra, Pasha, Karn and Chad for getting me to where I am."
Karn Shadra is a Drive coach and Chad Clifford the programs co-founder and co-director. Simon Dykstra coaches the boys junior program at Churchill secondary.
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