Minor Is A Major Presence

Feb. 12, 2001

by Erin L. Szymanski, Sports Information Student Assistant

Yes, Luke Minor is unusually tall to all of us--7-3 to be exact. But the redshirt freshman center from Richmond, Vir., doesn't quite see it that way.

'Being 7-3 is normal to me,' he said. 'I just think of everyone else as being below average.'Okay, so he is tall. But that doesn't mean that he can't hear, a fact that he thinks many people must forget.

'People must assume that I am deaf since I am so tall,' said Minor. 'They will stare at me and, as soon as I walk by, they will start talking about how tall I am as if I can't hear what is being said behind me.'

So listen up, because there is more to Minor's tall tale than just his height.It is probably not surprising that a 7-3 guy would play basketball. But Minor has not been playing this game all of his life. In fact, he didn't even begin playing the game until he was about 14 years old. Instead, something else was occupying this Southern boy's time.Art.

'I love art,' said Minor, who is a soon-to-be-declared fine arts major at USC. 'I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. People can either draw or they can't. I'm just one of those who can. I don't really understand why.

'It used to be my way of releasing frustration when I was younger. Now, when I am on the team plane, I'll sit there, put my music on, veg out and draw what ever I've got going on subconsciously.'

Though art used to be his main love, Minor can't really say which activity is tops now, art or basketball.

'That is a tough question,' he said. 'Art is something that I already excel at. I push myself for my own reasons, but basketball is more challenging, I guess. I haven't played basketball as long, so I am not anywhere near where I know I can be.'

However, Minor has received some advice from a couple of NBA stars on how to improve his game. And again, his unusual size played a role in him being able to get that advice.

'I wear a size 21 shoe, same as Shaq's,' Minor said. 'Of course, I can just go into a Payless shoe store at the mall and just pick some size 21 shoes up. No problem.'

Did we mention this was a tall tale, folks?

'Just kidding,' laughed Minor. 'For dress shoes, there is a place in Atlanta called Freedman's. That is where all the pros go. I went up there and actually ran into a couple of pros--Dikembe Mutombo and Kevin Willis. We talked for about thirty minutes, though you can't really understand what Mutombo is saying. Anyway, he told me that I need to run and be in great shape. He said I should play the game and then run and bike for two hours after that.'

And did Minor take this pro's advice?

'Yeah, I took his advice,' Minor said in jest, laughing. 'Not a day goes by that I don't do exactly what he says.'

Seriously, though, Minor did face an additional challenge last year, besides just having to get in shape.

'I had extensive surgery on my toes last year,' Minor recalls. 'Basically, when my toes grew, the tendons didn't grow along with them. I had hammer toes. Since the coaches were thinking of redshirting me anyway, they figured that they could just kill two birds with one stone by redshirting me and breaking my toes.'

Okay, so it wasn't that bad.

'I didn't have as much trouble coming back from surgery as I thought I would,' he admitted. 'My toes are pretty much straight now. They are not the prettiest looking feet, but they never have been. Nor have I ever aspired to have the prettiest feet. I'll just keep wearing socks.'

Fully recovered from surgery, Minor is back in action with the team this year. Even though he has only scored three points all season, including one field goal and one free throw, he has a pretty good idea about what his role on the team is.

'My role is to be the crowd favorite,' Minor said. 'When I come, in I always hear the crowd yell my name. I think it is great....well, actually, I love it!'

Minor uses this role and a healthy dose of humor to deal with his somewhat limited playing time.

'It is fun playing, but by the time I get in, we are already blowing someone out,' Minor said. 'So I can't screw it up, no matter what I do. What are you going to do in three minutes? You can't destroy the team, you know? I mean, you know you've been beaten bad by USC when Luke Minor is in the game.'

So the next time you see 'that tall guy' in the game, blowout or not, make sure that you keep yelling his name.

Remember, he can hear you.

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