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Gorman: Minnie's PIAA play a 'Cinderella story'

| Sunday, March 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Elijah Minnie endured one of the biggest recruiting ordeals in recent Western Pennsylvania history without ever receiving a scholarship offer.

That's about to change.

Minnie was ruled ineligible by the WPIAL and PIAA when Monessen contested his transfer to Lincoln Park, a charter school in Midland, alleging that he was recruited.

The 6-foot-9 junior missed the first 13 games of the basketball season before the ruling was finally overturned.

Following a 42-point performance in an 86-84 victory over Bishop Carroll in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals, Minnie is about to become a major-college prospect.

“I think his performance Friday night might give him national attention,” said Lincoln Park athletic director Mike Bariski, also a Leopards assistant coach. “It came from everywhere: outside, inside and above the rim. He did a little bit of everything. He's a wiry, muscular kid and athletic. He runs so well for a big kid and jumps out of the gym.”

The audience included Virginia Tech coach James Johnson and Hokies assistant Kurt Kanaskie, who were impressed but worried.

“I think before the playoffs are done, it's going to be a madhouse,” Bariski said. “Everybody is going to want him. The head coach from Virginia Tech said, ‘He's the best-kept secret around, and I hope he stays that way.' ”

Minnie's size and averages of 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots in 14 games this season have also caught the attention of DePaul, North Carolina State, Pitt, Temple and West Virginia.

But academics will determine whether Minnie can play Division I basketball. He didn't pass any courses as a freshman at Monessen and spent his sophomore year at Summit Academy, a school for court-adjudicated youth.

Minnie is in a credit-recovery program that will allow him to improve his grade-point average if he completes six courses this summer and next school year. Schools are as interested in his transcript as they are his scoring.

With 6-7 junior Ryan Skovranko, 6-1 sophomore Antonio Kellum and 6-5 freshman Maverick Rowan, Minnie is one of four D-I prospects at Lincoln Park.

And maybe the best.

“It would've been a travesty if he hadn't played this season,” Bariski said. “Nobody would have seen him. Would his senior year have been too late? Who knows? It's been an absolute Cinderella story.”

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