The last time we saw Lawrence High lefty Albert Minnis pitching for the Lions was in the state championship game in May against Shawnee Mission West, a team that wears black and gold and features a giant “W” on its hats.
Minnis and the Lions knocked off West to win the Class 6A state title that day, and now, nearly five months later, the LHS senior decided to become part of a similar team by signing a national letter of intent to play baseball at Wichita State University.
“I guess I just kind of like the colors,” Minnis joked before the ceremony.
Wednesday, in front of more than 50 friends, classmates and family members in the LHS library, Minnis signed on the dotted line to join the Shockers.
In the end, the allure of the tradition-rich, in-state program inspired Minnis to sign with Wichita State.
“I’m just real excited to finally get it set in stone that I’m going to Wichita State,” Minnis said. “Mainly, it was close to home, and I really like the history of their program. It’s kind of cool being in a premier program, all the lights and sparkles and stuff like that.”
Minnis chose WSU over Kansas University, but also received major interest from around the country. Clemson and Nebraska both were in his final four, and, when he first arrived in Lawrence prior to last season, he had received some kind of interest from just about every Div. I program in the nation.
The way he handled that kind of attention was one of the things that LHS baseball coach Brad Stoll liked most about him.
“He could have come in here and bragged about who he was and who wanted him, but all he cared about was fitting in with our guys and being a good teammate,” Stoll said. “I think that speaks volumes about his character and the kind of kid he is.”
Minnis joins Lawrence High great Kevin Hooper (Class of 1995) as the only LHS baseball players to sign with Wichita State out of high school. Hooper played four years at Wichita State before moving on to the minor leagues and eventually working his way up to the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers.
Stoll said he easily could see Minnis following a similar path.
“If he keeps going like this, he’s going to have another tough decision to make come about the second week of June after the major-league draft,” Stoll said.
First, however, Minnis has a little thing called his senior season and helping the Lions defend the Class 6A state title on his mind.
“I think it was going to be enjoyable no matter what,” Minnis said. “But now, instead of worrying about who’s coming to watch me pitch, I can worry about winning and getting back to the state finals.”