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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Minner signs with UMSL

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

(Photo)
Three Rivers' Darrell Minner (top left) signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
POPLAR BLUFF - Derrell Minner passed on his first opportunity to play at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Two years later, he gladly accepted the same invitation.

"I'm really excited that I got an opportunity to go even further with my basketball career," said Minner, who signed with UMSL late last week. "It's a really good environment in St. Louis... and I can further my education as well."

Minner hoped to earn an offer from a more prestigious college when he picked Three Rivers over UMSL in 2002. But the Rivermen continued to pursue the 6-7 forward from New Madrid. Even with a coaching change -- UMSL hired alum Chris Pilz just prior to the start of last season -- the Rivermen never lost interest in Minner.

"I think UMSL got a good one," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "He's a good young man and will do anything they ask him to do. He's going to be well-prepared for them and I know coach Pilz has to feel good about getting Derrell."

UMSL, a NCAA Division II school that competes in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, suffered through a forgettable 9-18 record in Pilz's inaugural season.

One of the biggest problems was rebounding, a category the Rivermen lost by an average of just over three rebounds per game. That's where Minner should provide immediate help.

A long-armed, gifted leaper, Minner led Three Rivers in rebounding with 6.8 rebounds per game this season.

He also averaged 6.6 points on 51.6 percent shooting.

After starting in 10 games as a freshman for the Raiders' national tournament team, Minner was slowed by a broken arm he suffered just prior to the start of his sophomore season. But he ended his career with a flurry.

Minner had 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds in Three Rivers' season finale, followed by a 16-point, nine rebound performance against SMSU-West Plains in the Region XVI tournament.

"I was pretty happy with my freshman year because we went to the national tournament," Minner said. "My sophomore year, we didn't quite get there but I still think I had a good year. When the season winded down, that's when I really started to make an impact."