Every morning, starting from the summer and entering his junior year of high school, D’Angelo Minnis would wake up before the sun, pick up his basketball and shoot 1,000 shots.
Yes, you read that right — an amount most players would be happy to get in within a week is the amount he would shoot in one morning with his father before he headed to start his day at Kentwood High School.
“We kept that as a ritual,” Minnis said. “That was a way that I spent time with my dad because he was at work all day.”
To this day — as a junior point guard in his final season at Western — he continues to start his day early to shoot hoops at the Sam Carver Gymnasium.
Minnis hung up his Vikings jersey and will become a Vandal soon, as he recently signed to play Division I at the University of Idaho. His future season is looking bright, and his career at Western will be remembered.
His mentality has always been to work hard and be the best he can be. Starting his career as a walk-on, he had to put in the work to make a name for himself.
“I believe that everything is earned, not given. I don’t think that anyone should want anything to be given to them," Minnis said. "I think that you should earn everything that you have.”
He redshirted his first season, which he describes as being both beneficial for his development as well as a difficult transition. He had been playing his whole life and had to get used to sitting back and watching his teammates play.
“It was really lonely because I was the only redshirt. But I learned a lot, kept my head down, worked super hard and I knew that my time would come,” Minnis said.
He had an impressive first season playing in the 2019-20 season. He started 29 out of 30 games, averaged 12.3 points per game and had six 20-point performances. He helped lead the team to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships, which they won.
After that, the season was cut short due to COVID-19, canceling their NCAA tournament game against UC San Diego. Minnis was sad to have his first season come to a premature end, but his mentality is to always keep growing and working hard. He took the pandemic as a way to indulge in some of his other passions.
“It was a really up and down season for all basketball players," Minnis said. "A lot of us who play basketball wrap our whole identity in it,” Minnis said. “Luckily for me, I had other outlets like graphic design and coding. I was able to work on my other skills at that time because I knew we weren’t going to play.”
Minnis is a graphic design and computer science double major. He is a creative person on and off the court. He puts a lot of energy into his love for designing and coding websites. It was during the pandemic that he and his best friend began a start-up company called Logo Genius, which specializes in providing digital services and branding identities for small businesses and companies. They design custom logos, business cards, websites and other design assets.
On the court, Minnis is notorious for his defense and his quick and scrappy playing style. In the 2021-22 season, he was voted GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. He wants to energize his team and be the “spark on defense.”
“Other coaches hated playing against him,” said Western senior point guard Daniel Hornbuckle. “When their point guard was coming up the court, they’d say to give it to someone else — don’t even dribble against him.”
His 1,000-shot mornings were not for nothing — he is a key scorer. One of his favorite moments as a Viking was scoring a career-high 35 points against Alaska Fairbanks. That same year, he had a superstar moment against Montana State Billings. He threw up a half-court buzzer beater to win the game, and it was featured on SportsCenter.
“That was crazy because we lost two or three games before that so we were trying to get back on a winning streak. Hitting that shot was a crazy experience for the whole team,” Minnis said.
In his third and final season, he considered his game to be the most polished that it has ever been. He reached 1,000 career points in a game against Alaska Fairbanks and ranked in the Top 10 of GNAC for scoring.
“He’s not super tall, so I think him being low to the ground and having the quickness to get his shot off and make it at a high percentage is unique. He’s able to have a huge impact on the floor without being the biggest guy on the floor,” said Western head basketball coach Tony Dominguez.
By the end of his career, he made connections with teammates and coaches that will last throughout his life.
“Aside from the wins and losses, I value the relationships that I made," Minnis said. "That’s what I will remember the most.”
The biggest thing that he tries to do is always get better and never be complacent. He said every day he tries to be a better person than he was yesterday — in basketball and in life.
“He’s actually the hardest worker I’ve ever seen," Hornbuckle said. "I’ve been able to see a lot of athletes and players that are even playing professionally now and don’t work as hard as he does.”
Minnis never had D1 aspirations — he wanted to go as far as he could, one step at a time. Now, he wants to play basketball for as long as he can, one day professionally.
At the University of Idaho, he is looking forward to building new relationships and being part of a culture where everyone wants to win and grow together.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact legacy Minnis will leave. He is known for being an incredible athlete as well as an uplifting person who brings a positive energy to coaches, teammates and everyone around him.
“A lot of athletes have that stigma about them where they think they’re better than everybody else, and you never got that with D’Angelo at all," Hornbuckle said. "Legacy-wise, he's one of the best players to come through here.”
Genesi Funston is a sports reporter for The Front. She is working towards a degree in public relations journalism. In her free, time she loves to run, read, play basketball and listen to rap music. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.