Donte Minter at home in Hall Gym

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SALISBURY — Not long ago, someone sent Donte Minter a copy of the list of 2,000-point scorers that have been reported to the NCHSAA’s basketball record book.

It’s not a long list — just 40 guys, dating back to the 1950s.

West Rowan’s Scooter Sherrill (2,469 points) is 10th on that list. A little further down and a little above Rocky Mount’s Phil Ford and Kinston’s Jerry Stackhouse is Donte Minter,

From the 1998-1999 season through the 2001-2002 season, Minter scored 2,087 points for Mike Gurley-coached West Rowan teams.

“I remember Gurley coming up to me one day and telling me I had a chance to score 2,000,” Minter said. “I had no idea and it was hard for me to believe. What’s special about it, looking back, is that not only did I score 2,000, I played with a teammate who scored 2,000. You don’t see many teammates on that list.”

Minter’s West teams were 109-11, and the 109 wins he was part of are believed to be a county record for any individual player. He competed in the 3A state championship game as a freshman and led a state championship team as a senior when West went 30-0. Minter scored 29 in the state-title game.

The 6-foot-8 Minter is back in Salisbury this week, conducting a basketball camp at Hall Gym with the help of a staff that includes former teammates such as thickly muscled Terris Sifford, a veteran of the European pro leagues.

“The kids think Terris looks mean,” Minter said with a laugh. “But then they find out he’s a nice guy.”

The camp started Monday and runs through Thursday. Miller Recreation Center has helped out with meals. Pfeiffer coach Jeremy Currier will speak to the kids before lunch on Wednesday.

“It’s a basketball camp, but we also try to help kids with some life lessons,” Minter said. “What we try to do is help prepare the kids as they start another school year. The camp is for boys and girls, grades 2-11, but if there’s a 6-year-old who wants to work on his game we’re not going to turn him away.”

Minter is no stranger to Hall Gym.

“Not many people that know this, but my senior year at West I played one-on-one against (former Salisbury and Providence standout) Fred Campbell before every game,” Minter said. “Fred was as tall as me and he could really shoot. Those games with him helped me. I played a lot of games at Hall Gym and I went to a lot of camps here as a kid.”

Minter played a year at Fork Union Miltary Academy after high school and averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds.

He contributed quite a bit as a freshman in 2003-04 after signing with Virginia. He started three games, played in every game and shot a team-best 56 percent from the field.

But a knee injury he suffered prior to this sophomore season set him back. His production dropped and his minutes dropped. That led to a transfer to Appalachian State.

Minter, a lefty with an amazingly smooth stroke for a big man, enjoyed two strong seasons with the Mountaineers. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as a junior and 13.9 points and 6.0 rebounds as a senior.

His best college memory came early in his Appalachian State career when ASU was a lightly regarded entry in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.

Instead of being an easy out, Appalachian shocked the world. It won that tournament, beating Virginia, Central Florida and Vanderbilt.

That Vanderbilt game for the championship went into overtime. Minter shot 11-for-15 and scored 27 points as he battled against his friend and former teammate Derrick Byars, who had transferred from Virginia to Vanderbilt.

It was the first time Appalachian State had beaten an SEC team and it was the first time Appalachian State had won a regular-season tournament since 1988. Minter was co-MVP of the tournament.

“What we accomplished wasn’t too bad for the little school from Boone,” Minter said. “We had a great run that year. We beat some Sweet Sixteen teams. We won 25 games and played at Ole Miss in the NIT.”

Minter wasn’t drafted by the NBA, but he played professionally in Europe in Germany, Spain, Holland and Portugal. In Holland he was reunited with former West Rowan teammate Junior Hairston. They had a special chemistry and led Upstairs Weert to some great victories.

Minter says he still has a strong bond with most of the Americans he played with in Europe.

“Every country in Europe was different and every city was different,” Minter said. “I enjoyed it all and I had experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. There’s so much history there. The cathedrals, the castles. In Portugal, I played in the city that’s was the first city in Portugal.”

Minter played in Guimarăes. That city was founded in the year 950 — and you thought Hall Gym was old.

Europe was not without some surprises for Minter.

“I remember playing in the northern part of Spain and it was snowing in late September and early October,” Minter said. “I thought Spain was supposed to be warm, and I’m wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into.”

While pro basketball provided rewarding years, Minter knew he couldn’t do it forever.

“My body was killing me,” he said. “After five years, I knew it was time to do something else.”

He has chosen an interesting career path. His degree from Appalachian State is in criminal justice, but he’s now working in the school system in Cheseapeake, Va. He’s a P.E. teacher working with special-education elementary school kids.

“There’s never a dull moment with those kids,” Minter said. “They’ve got so much life in them. You just want to help them as much as you can.”

Minter says his former teammates are doing well. Hairston is playing in Australia, while the others have adjusted to life after basketball. Guard Darren Ramsey, a solid player at West who went on to Johnson C. Smith, just graduated from Ohio State’s dental school.

“Darren didn’t play as much as he wanted to in college, but he got an education,” Minter said. “Basketball gave him a free ride. You can’t beat that.”

Minter’s life is changing. He turned 30 in January and got married in June to a girl he’s been dating since he was at Virginia.

That means he stays busy, but not too busy to remember his roots.

“Basketball treated me very well, and a lot of it started at Hall Gym,” he said. “We held our first camp here last summer, we came back this year, and we hope to keep building on it. This is a chance to give back a little bit, and the kids are very receptive.”