Proud dad in the stands, Omar Minaya is still a scout at heart

When Justin Minaya and fourth-seeded Providence take to the field at Buffalo on Thursday for their first round NCAA Tournament Game aga...


When Justin Minaya and fourth-seeded Providence take to the field at Buffalo on Thursday for their first round NCAA Tournament Game against 13th-seeded South Dakota State, there will be a very interested scout in the stands.

Omar Minaya is not just Justin’s father; he is also a former general manager of the Mets and the Montreal Expos. Currently a scouting consultant for Major League Baseball, Minaya, 63, also has her eye on basketball talent. He enjoys going to college basketball games, not just to watch his son, but to scout potential pro talent on other teams. Sometimes he even passes on advice to his friends in NBA circles.

“I think he’s pretty good,” Justin, a 22-year-old Friars forward who also played baseball in North Jersey, said in a phone interview. “He’s always liked athletic guys, so I’m pretty sure when he sees athletic basketball players who have length, who can do a lot of different athletic things, it’s kind of the same way he was scouting baseball.”

Omar Minaya had a short-lived career in the minor leagues, as well as stints in professional leagues in his native Dominican Republic and Italy. After injuries ended his playing career, he joined the Texas Rangers in 1985 as a scout, helping sign Latino players such as Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez.

He eventually held managerial positions with the Expos and then the Mets, where he signed pitcher Pedro Martinez and outfielder Carlos Beltran to free agent contracts.

In 2005, he made another key deal, bringing Jerry Krause to the Mets as a scout. Krause, who died in 2017, had a scouting background in baseball and basketball, having worked for the White Sox before becoming the architect of the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls, who won six NBA championships in the 1990s.

Minaya has always respected Krause’s ability to identify talent, especially in two sports.

“Jerry was all about athletes and makeup, guys who were great teammates and had ‘IQ,’” Minaya said. “Guys who knew how to play. You have to have the quantifiable with the unquantifiable and mix that, and that’s leadership.

Minaya now has the ear of top NBA officials, like Knicks general manager Scott Perry and Gersson Rosas, whom the team hired earlier this year as a consultant, though Minaya has no official relationship with him. the Knicks.

When Minaya was with the Mets, he also hired TJ Barra, currently director of basketball research and innovation with defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, who served as their data guru. Minaya was also close with the longtime New York basketball scout Tom Konchalsky, who scouted Justin in high school and died in 2021 of prostate cancer. Minaya is now involved with the Thomas C. Konchalski Foundation, which awards high school scholarships to young basketball players.

Rosas, 43, said Minaya “played a huge role” as a mentor given that both are from Latin America. (Rosas was born in Colombia; Minaya is from the Dominican Republic.)

“He was actually a guy that I looked up to very early on in my career, being baseball’s first Latino general manager,” Rosas said in a phone interview.

The two developed a friendship, and after Rosas became president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2019, he brought in Minaya during the pandemic for “multiple conversations” with staff about minority leadership. , scouting and team building.

“He loved hoops, I loved baseball and it was an opportunity to connect with a very smart and interesting guy,” Rosas said. “I’m a big believer that you can learn from other sports.”

Rosas said Minaya suggested balancing a young roster of stars like Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, both draft No. 1s, with veterans — the same way Minaya brought in Martinez and Beltran with the Put.

“In Minnesota, we were reshaping leadership, we were doing it with young talent, but we also wanted to be selective about the guys we brought in to help define our character and our DNA,” said Rosas, who Minnesota has. fired last year. . “And we did some of those things here last summer with guys like Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince.”

A player Minaya watched in college quickly became an NBA contributor: When Justin played for South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference, Omar was a big fan of 6-foot forward Herb Jones 7 inches from Alabama that New Orleans selected 35th overall last year. NBA Draft. He’s averaging 9.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game with the Pelicans and is a player Justin models after his play, Omar said.

When Justin transferred to Providence before this season, it meant he joined the Big East Conference, where his parents Rachel and Omar could watch virtually every game, including local schools like St. John’s and Seton Hall.

“My friends and I joke about it, he’ll come to practice and he’ll be sitting in the stands next to nobody, looking like a scout,” Justin laughed.

Watching Justin play in Friday’s Big East Tournament semi-finals from Madison Square Garden’s Section 102, Omar was impressed by Creighton’s 7-foot-1 second center Ryan Kalkbrenner, Big’s Defensive Player of the Year. East. He also loves Justin Lewis, a redshirt freshman forward for Marquette who averaged 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and was among the league’s best players this season. Marquette and Creighton are among six Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament and both play Thursday in Fort Worth.

Omar Minaya also shares player and team building insights with Providence coach Ed Cooley, who was named conference coach of the year after his team won its first Big East regular season title. in program history after being selected in the preseason coaches’ poll to finish. seventh.

When asked if he thought Minaya could make the jump to NBA scouting, Cooley didn’t hesitate.

“One hundred percent he could,” he said. “N°1, he knows the professional ranks. No. 2, he knows how to evaluate. By listening to it, he will know what he is looking for in a particular organization in terms of character trait, DNA trait, skill set. The guy, you’d think he’s a basketball GM, not a baseball GM”

Omar Minaya is one of many famous fathers who could be in Buffalo for games this week: Connecticut coach Dan Hurley is a son of Naismith Hall of Famer Bob Hurley, coach of St. Anthony High in Jersey City, NJ , until it closed in 2017, while his assistant, Luke Murray, is a son of actor Bill Murray.

“It’s always pretty cool too, when my dad talks about someone who came up to him and said, ‘Aren’t you Justin Minaya’s dad? “, Justin said. “All my life I’ve heard that I’m Omar Minaya’s son. For him to hear ‘Justin Minaya’s father’, I know that meant a lot to him.

Regardless of how Providence’s season ends, Justin, who is averaging 6.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, must decide whether to return to campus next season or try to start. a professional career.

So what does his dad, the basketball scout, think of his chances?

“I think he thinks I have a great chance,” Justin said, “whether it’s playing in the league or playing overseas. I know he thinks I can. doing and having that belief on his part means a lot.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Proud dad in the stands, Omar Minaya is still a scout at heart
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