When Justin Minaya and fourth-seeded Windfall take the courtroom in Buffalo on Thursday for his or her first-round N.C.A.A. tournament game in opposition to Thirteenth-seeded South Dakota State, there will probably be one keenly scout within the stands.
Omar Minaya is not only Justin’s father; he’s additionally a former normal supervisor of the Mets and the Montreal Expos. At the moment a scouting marketing consultant for Main League Baseball, Minaya, 63, additionally has an eye fixed for basketball expertise. He enjoys going to varsity basketball video games, not solely to look at his son, however to scout potential professional expertise from different groups. Generally, he even relays tricks to his mates in N.B.A. circles.
“I believe he’s truly fairly good,” Justin, a 22-year-old ahead for the Friars who additionally performed baseball rising up in North Jersey, mentioned in a telephone interview. “He’s all the time favored athletic guys, so I’m fairly certain when he sees athletic basketball gamers which have size, that may do loads of totally different athletic issues, it’s type of the identical approach as he was scouting in baseball.”
Omar Minaya had a short-lived profession within the minor leagues, in addition to stints in skilled leagues in each his native Dominican Republic and Italy. After accidents ended his enjoying profession, he joined the Texas Rangers in 1985 as a scout, serving to to signal Latino gamers akin to Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez.
He finally held high entrance workplace jobs with the Expos after which the Mets, the place he signed pitcher Pedro Martinez and outfielder Carlos Beltran to free-agent contracts.
In 2005, he made one other key deal, bringing Jerry Krause to the Mets as a scout. Krause, who died in 2017, had a scouting background in each baseball and basketball, having labored for the White Sox earlier than changing into the architect of the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls, who gained six N.B.A. championships within the Nineteen Nineties.
Minaya all the time revered Krause’s skill to establish expertise, particularly in two sports activities.
“Jerry was all about athletes and make-up, guys who had been good teammates and had “I.Q.,” Minaya mentioned. “Guys that knew how one can play. Principally, issues that weren’t quantifiable. It’s a must to have the quantifiable with the non-quantifiable and mix that in, and that’s management.”
Minaya now has the ear of N.B.A. higher-ups, like Knicks Common Supervisor Scott Perry and Gersson Rosas, whom the crew employed earlier this yr as a marketing consultant, although Minaya has no official relationship with the Knicks.
When Minaya was with the Mets, he additionally employed T.J. Barra, at the moment the director of basketball analysis and innovation with the reigning N.B.A. champion Milwaukee Bucks, who served as a knowledge guru. Minaya was additionally shut with the longtime New York Metropolis basketball scout Tom Konchalski, who scouted Justin in highschool and died in 2021 of prostate most cancers. Minaya is now concerned with the Thomas C. Konchalski Basis, which awards highschool scholarships to younger basketball gamers.
Rosas, 43, mentioned Minaya “performed an enormous function” as a mentor provided that each are from Latin America. (Rosas was born in Colombia; Minaya is from the Dominican Republic.)
“He was truly a man I regarded as much as very early on for me in my trajectory, being the primary Latino G.M. in baseball,” Rosas mentioned in a telephone interview.
The 2 developed a friendship, and after Rosas turned the Minnesota Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations in 2019, he introduced Minaya in through the pandemic for “a number of conversations” with the workers about minority management, scouting and crew constructing.
“He beloved hoops, I beloved baseball and it was a chance to attach with a really clever and attention-grabbing man,” Rosas mentioned. “I’m an enormous believer you possibly can be taught from different sports activities.”
Rosas mentioned Minaya advised balancing out a younger roster of stars like Karl-Anthony Cities and Anthony Edwards, each No. 1 general draft picks, with veterans — the identical approach Minaya had introduced in Martinez and Beltran with the Mets.
“In Minnesota, we had been reshaping the course, we had been doing it with younger expertise, however we additionally needed to be selective in regards to the guys that we introduced in to assist outline our character and our DNA,” mentioned Rosas, whom Minnesota fired final yr. “And we did a few of these issues right here final summer time with guys like Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince.”
One participant Minaya watched in faculty has shortly develop into an N.B.A. contributor: When Justin performed for South Carolina within the Southeastern Convention, Omar was an enormous fan of Herb Jones, a 6-foot-7 Alabama ahead whom New Orleans chosen thirty fifth general in final yr’s N.B.A. draft. He’s averaging 9.6 factors and three.9 rebounds per recreation with the Pelicans and is a participant Justin patterns his recreation after, Omar mentioned.
When Justin transferred to Windfall earlier than this season, it meant he was becoming a member of the Large East Convention, the place his mother and father Rachel and Omar might watch just about each recreation, together with at native faculties like St. John’s and Seton Corridor.
“Me and my mates joke about it, he’ll come to follow, and he’ll be sitting within the stands not close to anyone, wanting like a scout,” Justin mentioned with fun.
Whereas watching Justin play within the Large East match semifinals Friday from part 102 of Madison Sq. Backyard, Omar was impressed by Creighton’s 7-foot-1 sophomore heart Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Large East Defensive Participant of the 12 months. He additionally likes Justin Lewis, a redshirt freshman ahead for Marquette who averaged 17.1 factors and seven.9 rebounds per recreation and was among the many league’s finest gamers this season. Marquette and Creighton are among the many six Large East groups within the N.C.A.A. match, and each play Thursday in Fort Price.
Omar Minaya additionally shares insights on gamers and crew constructing with Windfall Coach Ed Cooley, who was named the convention’s coach of the yr after his crew gained its first Large East common season title in program historical past after being picked within the preseason coaches’ ballot to complete seventh.
Requested if he thought Minaya might make the leap to N.B.A. scouting, Cooley didn’t hesitate.
“A hundred percent he might,” he mentioned. “No 1, he is aware of the skilled ranks. No. 2, he is aware of how one can consider. Listening to him, he’ll know what he’s in search of in a selected group so far as the character trait, the DNA trait, the talent set. The man, you’d assume he’s a basketball G.M., not a baseball G.M.”
Omar Minaya is certainly one of a number of well-known fathers who could possibly be in Buffalo for video games this week: Connecticut Coach Dan Hurley is a son of the Naismith Corridor of Famer Bob Hurley, coach of St. Anthony Excessive in Jersey Metropolis, N.J., till its closure in 2017, whereas his assistant, Luke Murray, is a son of the actor Invoice Murray.
“It’s all the time fairly cool, too, when my dad talks about any individual got here as much as him and requested, ‘Aren’t you Justin Minaya’s dad?’” Justin mentioned. “All my life I’ve been listening to I’m Omar Minaya’s son. For him to listen to ‘Justin Minaya’s dad,’ I do know that meant loads to him.”
Nevertheless Windfall’s season ends, Justin, who’s averaging 6.4 factors, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, has to resolve whether or not to return to campus subsequent season or try to start out knowledgeable profession.
So what does his father, the basketball scout, take into consideration his probabilities?
“I believe he thinks I’ve an awesome likelihood,” Justin mentioned, “whether or not it’s enjoying within the league or enjoying abroad. I do know he thinks that I can do it and having that perception from him, it means loads.”