Providence’s premier defensive stopper is off to the NBA Draft.
Justin Minaya will bypass a potential extra blanket COVID-19 year offered by the NCAA and begin his professional career. The veteran wing posted a statement to his personal Instagram page @jusminaya late Wednesday afternoon confirming the news.
“I’ve had the time of my life playing at Providence and I will always cherish those moments,” Minaya wrote in part. “It’s been an honor to be a part of the first team to win a regular season Big East championship in school history. Words can’t express how grateful I am to be a part of the Friar Family.”
Minaya was a fifth-year player who transferred from South Carolina after the 2020-21 season. The 6-foot-7-inch left-hander settled quickly with the Friars thanks to his versatility guarding opposing wings and forwards. Minaya also emerged as an improving 3-point shooter throughout the season, burying what was a slow 6-for-27 start from deep.
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Minaya averaged 6.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and started the final 23 games for Providence, which finished with a 27-6 overall record and closed 14-3 in conference play. The Friars reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 25 years before eventually falling to national champion Kansas. Minaya collected five rebounds, four assists and locked up Jayhawks scorer Ochai Agbaji in a 66-61 loss.
“To the fans, thank you so much for embracing me,” Minaya wrote. “This has been the most fun year of basketball I’ve played.”
Minaya makes it four starters leaving Providence after its historic season. Nate Watson, Noah Horchler and Al Durham have all exhausted their eligibility. Verbal Commits reported earlier Wednesday reserve guard Matteus Case had entered the transfer portal, making it five total departures for the Friars to date.
Case appeared in just four games with Providence, playing a total of six minutes. He took the floor only twice after November, including for the final minute of a 79-51 blowout of Richmond in the NCAA Tournament.
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Case is a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman and an Ontario native. He was a late addition to the roster as a transfer from Penn — Case never actually suited up for the Quakers after the Ivy League scuttled its 2020-21 campaign. He claimed offers from Canisius, Drake and Florida Atlantic among others out of prep school before enrolling in Philadelphia.
“We appreciate the time that he spent at Providence College,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said in a statement on Twitter. “We wish Matteus all the best with his academic and athletic endeavors.”
The Friars could return up to four experienced guards entering the 2022-23 campaign. Jared Bynum was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year while Alyn Breed and Brycen Goodine came off the bench in lesser roles. The next key decision will come from A.J. Reeves, who could opt to exercise a blanket COVID-19 waiver and play a fifth college season.
Providence’s recruiting class is also guard-driven, with Jayden Pierre and Quante Berry providing reinforcements in the backcourt. The Friars are looking to parlay their on-court success and a host of coaching accolades for Cooley into a quick reset of the roster for next season. Cooley was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year and Providence played on the second weekend of March Madness for the first time in 25 years.
“I think the visibility definitely helps,” Cooley said Sunday. “We’ll see how it carries over in recruitment. But I think it’s paid off just with the excitement around our college. Our students, our fan base — I think everybody is eager to see where we can bring this a year from now.
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“It’s obviously going to be very hard to repeat but, at the same time, opportunity knocks. We’re going to have a chance. We’ll see how it pays off as we get into this recruitment and continue to build our program.”
Minaya and Case leaving would give the Friars three open scholarships, which would allow them to widen their range in search of immediate help. Providence is reportedly among the schools who contacted South Carolina transfer Devin Carter, a four-star shooting guard and top-100 prospect from Miami who prepped at Brewster Academy. Carter is the son of former NBA guard Anthony Carter and claimed offers from VCU, Richmond, Georgia Tech, DePaul and California before committing to the Gamecocks for a lone season.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25