Hard work will out

From the The Brunswick News

Glynn Academy graduate Joe Mincey's basketball odyssey led him Wednesday to Howard Coffin Gym at College of Coastal Georgia. Coastal Georgia assistant men's coach Bob Martin, as he unlocked the gym, didn't spot Mincey waiting for him outside and asked jokingly if he was asleep inside.

Truth be told, it wouldn't have surprised anybody if the 6-foot-3 Mincey had found a way inside with the amount of work he puts in daily on his game.

"I never have to ask him to get in the gym at all," said Martin, who was an assistant at Glynn during Mincey's senior season. "He's always calling me saying, 'Coach Martin, Coach Martin, you got time to get some work in?' He's always on the hunt to get better."

Mincey's work ethic has taken him from not making Dan Moore's varsity team at Glynn until his senior season to playing professional basketball overseas.

"Joe is a kid that has worked throughout his last couple of years of high school, though college and now his pro career, harder than anyone I know," said longtime GA boys coach Moore.

"He just has a great, great work ethic. He shows up and does workouts at 7 in the morning, 10 at night -- he's always in the gym."

Mincey was at Coffin Gym to have Martin put him through the paces as he prepares for his latest stop on his basketball journey in Kosovo, a place known more for warfare than hoops.

But Mincey hasn't turned up his nose at achieving his hoops dreams by going the international route.

"I love it. Not too many people get to go out of the country because it's expensive," Mincey said.

"Also, to be doing something that you love to do is very nice. It's a great opportunity. Once I'm done, I'll probably coach or do what Coach Martin does and just give back to the kids and live a regular life."

Mincey's basketball career before he became a pro read like an itinerary. He moved to Brunswick from New York City just before his freshman year at Glynn.

After graduating from Glynn, he played two years at Coastal (then, a junior college) under Gerald Cox and finished out his college career at West Texas A&M -- a Division II school in Canyon, Texas.

Mincey played one game with a pro team out of Savannah, scoring 25 points, but it wasn't the experience he had hoped.

"It was very unorganized, honestly," Mincey said.

"They were canceling games, and you had to pay to go on road games. That wasn't too professional to me, so I just started working with Coach Martin to stay in shape and going to exposure camps to get my name out there."

Exposure camps are how players like Mincey get their names known to international teams looking for American players. That's how Mincey found his way to Brazil, playing in the Gaucha League for Anapolis. Shasta Scott, a point guard for Anapolis, had been at a camp with Mincey and recommended him to the club when they needed another American player.

"They took a chance on me," Mincey said.

"It was for very little money, but the main thing was to get over there and get my name out there."

The roll of the dice paid off as Mincey averaged 19.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game for Anapolis. His family was excited he got to live out his dream but sad he had to do it so far away.

"They knew it was a dream for me to play professional basketball since I've been little," Mincey said. "With the social networks and stuff like that, it's OK."

After Brazil, Mincey headed to Germany for another exposure camp. He was named one of the top five players at the camp, which featured more than 50 players and was streamed live to teams around the world.

"I played pretty well in Germany. That was the big thing," Mincey said.

"Before then, I went to Brazil and played pretty well. But for some reason, South American basketball isn't respected, I guess, so a lot of teams didn't want to take a chance on me. After Germany, things started to open up for me."

Mincey received multiple offers after the exposure camp, but chose to play for KB Drita Gjilan in Kosovo. He's expecting to leave for Europe to join his new club in a few weeks.

"It's very exciting. You're the closest thing that they get to see to LeBron James and people like that," Mincey said.

"They love you. They always want to take pictures, autographs and stuff like that. The fans are very exciting. They never sit down."

Mincey doesn't want to let himself or his new fans down, one of the reasons he had Martin putting him through a grueling 45-minute workout Wednesday at Coastal.

The warm-up portion, which lasted about 20 minutes, would have been enough to leave most well-conditioned athletes sucking wind.

Martin hopes to have the entire workout up to 90 minutes before Mincey leaves. Martin pushes Mincey through drill after drill, working on everything from tipping a rebound and banking a short jumper off the glass to exploding off a cut to the basket and slamming home a dunk.

"He hasn't complained about a darn thing," Martin said as Mincey sprinted the length of the court and back during a cool-down period.

Perhaps the most telling portion of the workout came when Mincey had trouble finishing a drill on a made basket. He had to push himself up off the block, step out and bank in a short jump shot. It took him five times to end on a make.

"I think the mental toughness aspect of starting and finishing a drill has improved greatly," Martin said.

The workout in the gym wasn't the only one of the day for Mincey. It was part of a program that includes running a few miles each day and lifting weights. The goal is to be in basketball shape by the time he leaves for Kosovo.

"I try to not make this the main focus of the day," Mincey said. "I've even changed my diet. I'm eating very well and doing everything I can because over there, across the water, you're American so they expect you to play 40 minutes a game. If you need a breather, you get a two-minute breather, but that's it. The ball is going to be in your hands the majority of the game, so you have to be in shape."

Mincey will also be playing a more up-tempo style game than the brand of basketball played in America.

He said his shooting is the weakest part of his game, although his touch seemed excellent from long range during his workout.

"I don't want to make my whole focus shooting and then get weak on other parts of the game," Mincey said. "So I try to incorporate everything into the workout."

Kosovo may be the next stop on Mincey's odyssey, but if the determination he shows in workouts is an indication of his future success, it won't be the last destination.

"He's a success story that a lot of kids need to hear about because he's done it through hard work," Moore said.

"He's done it through hard work. He was not blessed with all of that stuff early. He's made himself into a very good player and a very good shooter by hard work and determination."

Release Date: 8/10/2013
Source: The Brunswick News