Louisville basketball: Cards land another top ranked graduate transfer

Charles Minlend #14 of the San Francisco Dons (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Charles Minlend #14 of the San Francisco Dons (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

In the middle of the night, Chris Mack and the Louisville basketball program got another coveted commitment seemingly out of nowhere.

The majority of Louisville basketball fans went to bed without giving much consideration to the name Charles Minlend Jr. If you’re like me and you checked Twitter shortly after waking up, you quickly realized that Chris Mack reeled in another major commitment for the Cards on Sunday evening.

The majority of Louisville fans were on cloud nine after Mack landed the nation’s top graduate transfer in Carlik Jones early last week, giving them the experienced scoring punch they desperately needed to pair with their rather youthful, yet promising roster.

On the heels of Jones’ announcement, we also learned that Jordan Nwora and Jay Scrubb would stay in the NBA Draft, eliminating any chance of either being in Louisville for the 2020-21 season (as most of us expected). Whether you agreed or understood Scrubb’s choice to become a professional rather than spending a year in college, it meant that Louisville was going to have another hole on the wing that would likely need an experienced player in it.

I’ve followed the transfer portal fairly closely for the last two or three years, and what happened with redshirt junior and San Francisco graduate transfer Charles Minlend Jr. on multiple occasions – it’s what makes college basketball’s version of free agency so much fun.

Entering the weekend, Louisville wasn’t even a team on the radar for Minlend Jr., as he was nearing his final decision. There had been no connection or links of Mack expressing interest in the 6’4 swingman who spent the last three years staring for an up and coming WCC program in San Francisco.

In fact, many expected that Minlend Jr. was likely to end up playing for either WCC rival, Gonzaga, or potentially even in the Pac 12 playing for Arizona – both of whom were in his final schools. No one saw Louisville playing a factor in his recruitment, and to wind up with a commitment from one of the best available players is a huge boost to the recruiting efforts of Chris Mack.

So what is Louisville getting in the former San Francisco star?

First and foremost they’ll be getting consistency and an experienced two-way wing. For each of the last three seasons, Minlend Jr. has averaged double-figures as either the go-to player or a secondary option for the Dons. Primarily playing as a downhill attacker, Minlend Jr. has made a name for himself in the WCC, which featured being a two-time All-Second Team conference member, by becoming one of the most difficult players to stop off the dribble.

While Minlend Jr. is by no means an elite athlete, he’s built like a brinks truck and is capable of getting around nearly anyone thanks to strength and savviness – while rising above the rim for some nasty finishes. If you’re looking for what Minlend’s game might look like, think Dwayne Sutton and Jerry Smith in one body. Minlend Jr. is as brute and physical of a guard as I’ve seen this season in college basketball at any level and is more than capable of stepping back behind the three-point line and knocking it down.

In 2019-20, Minlend Jr. averaged 14.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, shooting 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep. While the numbers may not pop out, keep in mind that the 6’4 guard was an underrecruited player out of North Carolina and instantly developed into a star. He finished his career with 1,271 points scored (in just three seasons) and was 10th all-time in program history in total number of threes made. That type of proven scoring, combined with Carlik Jones, makes the Cards a potential top 25 team.

As far as what to expect next season, Minlend Jr. will likely play in a bench role for Louisville in 2020-21, despite being a three-year starter at San Francisco. As we’ve noted throughout the spring, rising sophomore Samuell Williamson is expected to step into the starting role for the Cards following the departures of Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch. That means that Minlend Jr. will play behind him, which will give Louisville arguably one of their most dynamic bench players in the Chris Mack era.

While it may be hard to believe, the Cards may actually have a more talented group of wing players set to play next season than they have each of the last two seasons. Minlend Jr. will join Williamson, along with incoming freshman D’Andre Davis, a talented scorer and defender, as well as versatile combo forwards JaeLyn Withers & Quinn Slazinski who both present unique matchup opportunities.

Mack has really yet to have a player on his roster at Louisville who is just as capable of breaking their man down one-on-one off the dribble as he is of consistently locking down an opponents best guard or wing player. It’s easy to see within a few seconds of watching the newest Cardinal why the Cards third-year head coach would be interested. His versatility, toughness, scoring, leadership, and tenacity make him a hand-in-glove fit, and with one year of eligibility remaining you best believe that Minlend will be laser-focused on making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career, giving the Cards everything he has.

Next. 3 unique lineups you may see in 2020-21. dark

Based off what I’ve seen, I think everything he has is going to make him an instant fan favorite in Louisville.