Mr. Versatile


POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

There's a reason Pi'i Minns goes to the gym for pickup basketball games every Sunday.





        » GPA: 3.0

        » Favorite Athlete: Kobe Bryant

        » Favorite team: Los Angeles Lakers

        » Favorite sports reporter: Stephen A. Smith

        » Favorite food: Alaskan King Crab (mom's)

        » Favorite movie: “;He Got Game”;

        » Favorite actor: Chris Tucker

        » Favorite artist: Adeaze

        » Favorite class: Speech

        » Favorite teacher: Mr. Gabriel Alisna

        » Favorite quote: “;Be quick, but don't hurry”; — John Wooden

        » Favorite hobbies: Surfing, bodyboarding

        » Mama said: “;Don't ruin your name.”;

        » Did you know: Pi'i plays wide receiver in football and was the ILH high jump champion last year.

The Kamehameha senior could have done any number of things the day before.

Maybe he caught a touchdown pass against Saint Louis under the bright lights of Aloha Stadium.

Or maybe it's spring time, and Minns just wrapped up winning the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship in the high jump.

It might even be basketball season and the Warriors just finished games against ILH powerhouses 'Iolani, Punahou and Saint Louis in the same week.

No matter the situation, there's one thing you know with Minns, a 6-foot-3, do-everything senior.

He's still ballin' on Sundays.

“;I just keep going,”; Minns said. “;Basketball has always been my first love. There's always a game to play on Sunday.”;

THE END of the 2008 basketball season felt like a never-ending track meet.

Forced to play in the ILH third-place tournament for a chance to make states, Kamehameha first had to claw its way through that.

Then it had to make a quick trip to the Big Island to win a play-in game against Honokaa to earn that berth in the state tournament.

Back to Oahu the Warriors went and four days later, states was already under way.

“;Last year we had to play a lot of games in a short period just to squeeze our way in,”; Minns said.

Kamehameha opened with a first-round win against Kahuku before facing No. 2 seed Konawaena in the quarterfinals. The Warriors trailed by 12 with less than 4 minutes remaining, but made a wild comeback that just fell short, losing 54-53.

“;It helped us for this year because that's always in the back of our minds,”; Minns said. “;Everyone has a clean plate coming in, and we know what it's like for those other teams to try and get their confidence back after all those games you lost.”;

The Warriors are the No. 1 seed in the tournament this year after plowing through league play to win the ILH championship.

Kamehameha's only ILH loss came in January to 'Iolani. Since then, it has ramped up its defense and only allowed one opponent to score more than 50 points in a game.

“;That's what we try to do,”; Minns said. “;We get out there with our traps and just try to put as much pressure as we can on the other team.”;

SINCE THE SEVENTH GRADE, every time Minns would go out and play ball on his own, chances are Brandon Dumlao was with him.

Teammates, classmates and friends, the two have played basketball and football together for the last six years.

Football season ended roughly for Dumlao, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The two had always talked about leading the Warriors to a state championship in basketball, but Dumlao was faced with a tough situation. He could have surgery on his knee and miss his senior season of basketball, or play through it and risk more damage.

“;I told him to get surgery because that could change him for the rest of his life,”; Minns said. “;He didn't want to sit on the side. That's not something a lot of people could go through.”;

Instead, Dumlao has been there for every practice, every drill. When Minns is having an off day shooting, he watches his friend lumber through practice. No excuses, no whining and no complaining. Coach Jesse Nakanishi says what he wants and Dumlao follows his coaches' words.

“;He doesn't get many minutes, he's out there with no ACL, and he's still positive all the time,”; Minns said. “;No one is probably doing that around the league right now. That's the motivation we have every day in practice.”;

ALTHOUGH HE finds time to pick up a basketball every week, Minns has never completely dedicated himself to the sport he loves. When basketball season starts, he's lucky to have played more than just on Sunday, spending all his free time on the football field.

With college a year away, it's decision time for Minns. Small schools on the West Coast like Linfield (Ore.) have talked to him about playing both sports. Hawaii Pacific, Chaminade and Whitworth (Wash.) have all expressed interest in Minns' future on the basketball court.

But then there's the hometown team just down the road. Minns knows a scholarship isn't likely, but the chance to walk on and play at the Division I level at Hawaii is in the back of his mind.

“;I've been playing three sports from seventh grade, and I really haven't fully committed myself to one,”; Minns said. “;If I did that, I'd like to see what happens.

“;I'm not expecting anything, just whatever happens, happens. Just to show what I have, if it's good, then I'll like it. If not, then I'll figure something else out.”;

THE STATE TOURNAMENT gets under way today, but the Warriors don't play until tomorrow's quarterfinals. Minns hasn't won a state championship in any sport at Kamehameha and knows the clock is ticking.

He's had the opportunity to look back and think about all the time he's dedicated himself to sports: the time spent on the football field, running through two-a-days at the end of summer; the endless jump shots from the top of the key as a kid, before moving back and working on his shot from 3-point range; trying to develop the consistent run needed to hit that mark at the perfect point to be able to clear the high jump bar six feet in the air.

All the hours and all the sweat and yet Minns doesn't have that state title to show for it.

Now's the time he hopes those Sundays on the basketball court, 52 times per year, pays off.

“;You look back at seventh grade or whatever, and then you look to now,”; Minns said. “;You would have thought you would have at least one or two (state titles), but you don't.

“;Everything is on the line now. I've got to go get it.”;