Nothing is "mini" when it comes to Lincoln Park basketball star Elijah Minnie.
He's 6 feet 9, has a wingspan of more than 7 feet, and immediately made a giant impact in his first season with the Leopards last school year.
This summer, Minnie has been a standout on the AAU circuit, and his outstanding inside/outside game has it looking like he will be a major pickup for whichever college he eventually chooses.
Football talk will dominate the local high school landscape the next several months, but a few of the area's top senior basketball players will not only be preparing for their final season, but also deciding where they will play collegiately.
Minnie is one of them. He's been on the radar of colleges for a number of years, but the interest in him has picked up considerably since the end of his junior year, as his list of Division I offers has more than doubled.
Minnie said he holds 11 offers, two of the most recent being from Virginia Tech and Temple. Minnie has also been offered by Duquesne, Robert Morris, DePaul, Kent State, Fordham, Liberty, James Madison, Tennessee Tech and Elon.
Minnie said that Pitt is showing a lot of interest, but has yet to offer.
"I was hoping to maybe [make my commitment] midseason or after the season," Minnie said.
Minnie played with two AAU teams the past few months -- PK Flash and Team Adidas. Among his teammates were a pair of his Lincoln Park teammates -- senior Ryan Skovranko and junior Antonio Kellem -- and Hempfield Area junior Kason Harrell. Minnie travelled to tournaments in Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New York City and Atlantic City.
Minnie, who is from Monessen but currently lives in Conway, Beaver County, recently played in the J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer Basketball League, which features many top players from the Mon Valley. Weather permitting, the games are played outdoors at the Mechanic Street Playground in California.
"I love playing outdoors," Minnie said. "It gives me a lot of freedom in my game."
Minnie's team, BeeGraphix, won the title for the second year in a row. Minnie averaged more than 20 points per game and was named league MVP.
After spending a year each at Monessen High School and Summit Academy, Minnie has found a home at Lincoln Park. Minnie was forced to miss the early part of his junior season as the WPIAL and PIAA determined his eligibility, but once ruled eligible, he was terrific and, at times, dominant.
Minnie averaged 21.5 points per game and was named first-team Class A all-state. He helped Lincoln Park reach the WPIAL and PIAA semifinals. Against Bishop Carroll in the PIAA quarterfinals, Minnie scored a career high 42 points.
"Being at Lincoln Park has been amazing," Minnie said. "Everyone there has been so supportive and so nice to me since the day I got there. I really like it there."
Minnie can rebound and block shots, but it's his athleticism and shooting touch from the outside that separates him from most players his size. Minnie said he feels most comfortable at power forward and that most schools are recruiting him to play that position, but added that some coaches have told him that if he improves his ball handling skills he might be able to play small forward.
Minnie said West Virginia and North Carolina State are among the other schools showing heavy interest.
Something to keep an eye on in Minnie's recruitment is his desire to play with Skovranko in college. The two have been offered by some of the same schools, and Minnie said they have even told some coaches they are a "package deal." Temple is one of the schools who have offered both. Former Lincoln Park star Devontae Watson will be a redshirt freshman at Temple.
"We have a great chemistry," Minnie said of playing with Skovranko, a 6-7 guard/forward. "I could see us going to college together."
In just a few months, the two will try to help Lincoln Park put together what could be a special season.
"We're fully determined to win WPIAL and state titles," Minnie said.
First Published August 15, 2013 4:00 AM