Minnis Embraces Journey To Success In Basketball, Design
D'Angelo Minnis went from sitting out the 2018-19 season as a redshirt to starting 29 games in 2019-20 at point guard.
D'Angelo Minnis went from sitting out the 2018-19 season as a redshirt to starting 29 games in 2019-20 at point guard.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
by Blake Timm, Assistant Commissioner for Communications

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Throughout his life, D’Angelo Minnis has been no stranger to hard work.

As he grew up, the Western Washington point guard watched his dad build his way up from being a high school dropout to a successful career in the medical industry in Seattle.

“He would leave for work every morning around 6:30 and would usually get home about 8:30,” Minnis said, “but then he came home and we would have family time. He would hang out with me, my brother and my mother and help cook dinner.”

At 5:30 a.m., the schedule would start all over again with Minnis and father heading out to get a workout of 500 to 1,000 shots before school and work.

That work ethic, which made Minnis a successful prep basketball player at Kentwood High School, has translated to his Western Washington career in more ways than one. Not only did hard work translate into a starting role with the Vikings as a redshirt freshman, but it has also helped the sophomore develop a career as a logo designer.

Balancing academics, basketball and a burgeoning career is tough for anyone but, according to WWU head coach Tony Dominguez, Minnis seems to thrive under that load.

“He is very unusual in that way. He reminds me of myself in terms of his ambition and taking on a lot of things,” Dominguez said. “His intensity, his passion and his work ethic are driving forces for our team.”

The way Minnis approaches both his career ambitions and basketball go hand in hand, knowing that hard, consistent work will eventually result in success.

“In basketball, I train every single day and I may not see a result for a month or two,” Minnis said. “But if I have been practicing that same shot over and over again and then I finally hit that one shot, that feeling of success after practice is really cool to me.”

The idea for pursuing a career in logo design came to Minnis a year ago after seeing someone on Instagram who had developed a business as a designer. It didn’t matter that Minnis had minimal experience with graphic design. After connecting with his Instagram contact, he sought out online courses on the basics of graphic design and learned Adobe Illustrator, a professional-grade digital design program. The more he learned, the more joy he found in the design process.

Minnis admits that his first attempts to design logos were rough but he soon found the confidence to promote his work on fiverr, an online marketplace for freelancers.

“I made a new account and then one day I got an order,” Minnis said. “I created the order for that customer and they gave me a review and they liked it. From then on, it just grew. People started leaving better reviews and then more people started ordering from me.”

While Minnis was initially content just designing logos, his longtime friend Jaylin Booker suggested that his design acumen could be much more.

“He wondered if I could create a business out of this,” Minnis said. “At the time, I thought it was a great idea but we didn’t know where to go with it. Did I just want to do logos or did I want to create business cards, flyers, all of that?”

Each project that Minnis takes on begins with a questionnaire to learn more about a client and what they hope to gain from the creation of a logo. From there, the development begins with pencil and paper sketches of concepts followed by transferring those concepts to a digital format.

While Minnis gets great satisfaction in seeing the finished product, he continues to take the most enjoyment with the process of arriving at the final product.

“It’s like a puzzle to me,” Minnis said. “I get to take all of this information and I think about it and draw it out on paper. I draw four or five designs with no color, just pencil. When something clicks I then try to create it in Adobe Illustrator. The most fun part is the beginning.”

Since discovering graphic design and logos, Minnis finds himself looking everywhere at branding. A drive across town or a trip to the grocery store is as much a case study as it is running an errand. In his research, he has come to believe that the simpler the logo, the better.

“Logos that are minimal have the most impact,” Minnis said. “They seem to catch your eye quicker.”

The same drive with which D’Angelo Minnis is pursuing graphic design is the same drive that made him a starter for Western Washington as a freshman.

As a prep player, Minnis led Kentwood to a string of state playoff appearances and the 4A state championship in 2017. Despite being named the North Puget Sound League’s most valuable player and earning all-state honors as a senior, there were not many offers out there for the 5-foot-10 point guard.

Dominguez was recruiting a teammate of Minnis when D’Angelo’s play caught his eye. He invited both for an official visit in Bellingham where Minnis quickly sold the team on his potential.

“We watched him play with our guys and he was fabulous,” Dominguez said. “He showed well against our veterans. He didn’t show any fear. He came into that day with a lot of moxie and confidence.”

That visit resulted in Minnis earning an opportunity to join the program, taking a redshirt year during the 2018-19 season. He knew that, with his undersized frame, he was going to have to work harder to earn a spot on the roster.

“I knew that I wasn’t as ready as I wanted to be, so I used that year to train,” Minnis said. “I was in the weight room every day with our strength trainer. I needed to get bigger and stronger.”

The preparation paid off. Tapped as the starting point guard for the season opener against Cal State Dominguez Hills, Minnis opened his collegiate career with a 22-point performance, shooting 60 percent from the field.

Minnis never lost the starting job, finishing the season with an average of 12.3 points per game. He shot 45.7 percent from the field and was an impressive 89.1 percent at the free throw line, making 49 of 55 on the season.

While Dominguez saw a lot of ability in Minnis, he said that the guard earned his spot through hard work.

“D’Angelo really believes in himself. I believe that you can do whatever you want in life and I want to sell that to our guys,” Dominguez said. “D’Angelo believes that and knows that the only one holding him back is himself.”

That belief means continuing to put the work in to keep himself ready. With Carver Gym closed for much of the pandemic, Minnis has kept his game sharp by working out outdoors at Bellingham-area elementary schools. He has also adjusted the high school routine of 500 to 1,000 shots per day that he did every morning with his dad.

“Now I get up about 300 shots but I also shoot 300 layups a day too,” Minnis said, acknowledging the balance between basketball and academics. “I have been working a lot on my finishing because I felt like that was something I needed to improve on from last year. I would always shoot the ball but I wanted to be a better finisher.”

When asked about his ambitions and career goals, Minnis does not mince words. He wants to be the best at everything he does. He wants to create the biggest logo and website design company in the world. He wants to take his basketball ability to the highest levels of the game. He truly believes that the only thing limiting him in life is himself.

“For the dreams that you have, chase them and don’t limit yourself and don’t judge yourself on where other people are on their journey,” Minnis said. “Remember that you start at a different place than where everyone else is. The most important part is the process and to truly fall in love with that.”

Whatever course Minnis chooses to follow in life, his coach knows that he will accomplish it. And that very likely could be sooner rather than later.

“He wants to be a success early,” Dominguez said. “A lot of kids say those things but they don’t put it into action. D’Angelo works harder than everyone on the team. I have no doubt that by the time he is 30 or 40 that he will have accomplished some great things.”