Donning the red and black

James Salazar

Staff Writer

On April 9, the Foghorn reported that redshirt junior Charles Minlend had entered the NCAA graduate transfer portal and would not be returning to the Hilltop for his final season of athletic eligibility. Five days later, the University of Louisville Cardinals officially announced that Minlend had signed with the team. 

Minlend is a member of the class of 2020, completing his undergraduate degree this semester. But he only used three years of NCAA eligibility, making him a graduate transfer.

In typical offseason fashion, Minlend’s transfer caused quite the buzz in the world of college basketball. Upon entering the portal, Minlend had been linked to multiple programs. Jeff Goodman of Stadium, a digital television and internet sports network, said Minlend’s decision “came out of nowhere,” as the Cardinals were not mentioned in his previous top-seven choices, a list that consisted of Arizona, Arkansas, Butler, Brigham Young University, Gonzaga, Indiana, and Mississippi State.

As it turns out, Minlend’s three years of play in San Francisco and a heavy-hitting departure for the Cardinals created the perfect destination. 

While a freshman at USF, Minlend averaged 10.0 points per game. He tore his labrum before his sophomore year and spent the season on the sidelines. Wanting to play again, Minlend redshirted his junior year and embarked on a path toward redemption. 

Over the next two years, Minlend’s hard work paid off tremendously. During the 2019-20 season, Minlend led the Dons in scoring with 14.5 points. He also averaged 4.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 steals. 

In addition to piling up the stats sheet, Minlend earned All-West Coast Conference second-team honors and ranked among the nation’s top 20 graduate transfers by ESPN. His 1,271 career points tied for No. 18 on the Dons’ list of all-time scoring leaders. 

Though Minlend had a star-studded career with the Dons, his figurative mantle had a few omissions. He never conquered the beast known as Gonzaga, nor did he make an appearance in the NCAA tournament. With a desire to take his game to the next level, Minlend set his sights on the Cardinals. 

Speaking with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Minlend said, “I wanted to see if I could do it somewhere else. I wanted to see if I could do it on the biggest stage, and Louisville is definitely one of those schools that’s on the biggest stage.” 

While Minlend wanted to flex his basketball prowess, the Cardinals wanted to patch up a Jay Scrubb-sized hole. The 19-year-old shooting guard and small forward for the Cardinals declared for the 2020 NBA draft on April 9. 

After a few FaceTime sessions and a Zoom virtual visit, the Cardinals found the player they needed to fill up their backcourt. 

The Cardinals themselves are coming off a successful 2019-20 season. Under their second year with Chris Mack as head coach, the team finished with a 24-7 record and a 15th place finish in the AP Top 25 Poll. 

In a press release, Mack said, “Charles had a special career at San Francisco and established himself as a player who competes on both ends of the floor.” Mack went on to say, “Charles’ toughness will help replace some key figures from a season ago.”

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