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Olando Minott: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger

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Some people use hardships as an excuse to quit, others, like Olando Minott use it to persevere.

Minott, a senior at Samuel Gompers high school, has pushed past adversity, scoring over 1,000 points in his career, leading the Panthers to the semifinals of the PSAL A Division championship and now taking aim at his future, competing for a scholarship at the Annual Big Apple Basketball Scholarship Games on Sunday, April 20, at Baruch College.

Not bad for a kid who was once told he wasn’t cool enough to play basketball.

 “People picked on me a lot growing up,” said Minott, who has been playing basketball since the 6th grade. “I was called a geek and told I shouldn’t play. I’m happy I didn’t listen to them.”

Minott noted that his inspiration came from these peers as well as from the troubles his team faced during his first two seasons at Gompers.  While the team struggled, they learned together and became a success, taking the Bronx A East Division for two straight seasons and advancing into the semifinals for the first time in 20 years.  

At the forefront of the success has been Olando, viewed by many to be mere steps  from making a big name for himself in the NBA.  College enrollment is all that stands in his way. 

Minott found out about the 5th annual Scholarship Games from his basketball coach, Donial Rodriguez. The scholarship games are designed to bring together 40 of the top unsigned boys, high school seniors from the NYC metropolitan area.  They play together to showcase their talent to college basketball coaches and scouts, who may not know of them or may not have seen them play.  Minott had to tryout for his spot and was selected to the team, one of only two Bronx students chosen. 

Overall in the game, Minott played over 20 minutes and scored a total of 6 points with 1 assist. His efforts did not go unnoticed.  Several scouts expressed interest in Minott and SUNY Potsdam has already given the Gompers senior an offer.  Minott has yet to make a decision, but he does have his goals.

Minott says that he wants to take basketball as far as he can; possibly the pros or overseas. He says that he would like to let people know that he is out there and that he is a dominant force on the court.

Like others of his background and caliber, Minott would like to do this for his mom, who has been an inspiration to him throughout his life.

Minott, who hails from the Fordham community, says that he has an alternate plan if basketball doesn’t work out. “I want to be a coach or a gym teacher,” he said, believing that as long as he works hard, he will always make his mother proud.

Minott has a promising future ahead of him. His hopes for proving all the people that put him down wrong have panned out and Minott hopes to continue to do so as he progresses through life. He is hoping to attend any school that will provide him with a good offer and help him toward his career aspirations.

But no matter where he goes, Gompers will be the guiding force that got him there. 

“My favorite thing about playing ball at Gompers was watching the crowd grow from 15 to 1,500,” he said, “It was crazy to see and it gave you motivation to give it your all on the court.  That’s all you can do out there – give it your all.”

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