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Elijah Minnie declares for NBA Draft

ptrminnie03071616
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Eastern Michigan’s Elijah Minnie plays in a Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am Summer League game. Robert Morris dismissed him in early February because of disagreements between him and coach Andy Toole.
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Andrew Mascharka | EMU Athletics
Monessen native Elijah Minnie competes for Eastern Michigan men's basketball during an early-season game in 2017.
ptrminnie03071616
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Eastern Michigan’s Elijah Minnie plays in a Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am Summer League game. Robert Morris dismissed him in early February because of disagreements between him and coach Andy Toole.
gtrElijahMinnie122617
Andrew Mascharka | EMU Athletics
Monessen native Elijah Minnie competes for Eastern Michigan men's basketball during an early-season game in 2017.

Monessen native Elijah Minnie thinks he is close to being ready for professional basketball.

In the meantime, he is browsing his options to see what his stock is worth.

Minnie, a 6-foot-9 redshirt junior forward at Eastern Michigan, announced Tuesday is he declaring for the NBA Draft. He will not hire an agent, which means he won’t jeopardize his eligibility and could return to school for his senior year.

“I’m just testing the waters trying to get as much feedback as I can from teams,” Minnie said. “I plan on coming back to school but if I can work on my craft this next month and get a team to really like me, I’ll leave school. But I also want to be drafted, not picked up, so if going back to school means being on a draft board and being drafted and getting my degree, so be it.”

Minnie, who played at Robert Morris after a high school career at Monessen and Lincoln Park, posted on Twitter, “I feel by making this decision it will allow for my talents and abilities to be evaluated by NBA teams so that I can better myself for my career in the future.”

In an obvious nod to the death of his mother, Justina, he also wrote, “Life has been tough for me the last month but God has given me this great opportunity to continue to play basketball and showcase my talents.”

Justina Minnie Underwood died unexpectedly on Feb. 25 at age 39.

Elijah did not miss a game and played some of the best basketball of his college career because, “My mom wouldn’t want me to stop playing for any reason,” he said. “If I am able to play, she would want me to play.”

Minnie averaged 16.8 points and 6.1 rebounds this season to lead Eastern Michigan (22-13), which reached the Mid-American Conference semifinals and the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Minnie scored a career-high 29 points in an 83-65 win over Niagara in the CIT first round.

He was an all-MAC third-team selection.

“I’m just focused on bettering myself through this whole process, taking a business-like approach to it and to get myself ready for my career in the future so I can provide for myself and my family,” Minnie said. “And to show everyone that no matter what you go through in life there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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