In his own words, former BYU legend Roland Minson lived is life based on the following: “I believe success is not measured in money, or power, or position, but in how well we serve others.”
Minson, the MVP of the 1951 National Invitational Tournament, died at his home in Afton, Wyoming, on Wednesday at the age of 90.
“There were just so many fabulous things about Dad that are fun to share with others,” his son, Dave, told the Daily Herald. “When we were growing up, he really didn’t emphasize his basketball career much. We got to play with his trophies and we saw the clippings, but he really chose family over basketball. The man he was had so much to do with what he was for his family.”
Roland T. Minson came to Provo from Idaho Falls and was a three-year starter and earned first team all-conference honors three times for the Cougars.
Minson averaged 16.7 points per game during the 1951 season but scored 26 points per contest during the NIT. For his career, Minson totaled 1,407 points which at the time was a school record. His single season scoring mark of 619 points stood until Danny Ainge broke that record in 1978.
Minson was drafted by the New York Knicks in the second round of the 1951 NBA Draft, the 15th pick overall. But he was drafted into active service duty in the US Navy for the Korean War.
“Dad actually broke his leg skiing before he went,” Dave Minson said. “He wasn’t able to ski during his BYU career but he he broke his leg pretty bad and had to get a six-month deferment.”
After returning from the war, Minson – known as “The Big Cat” — opted to forgo pursuing an NBA career to go into banking in Denver.
“Following the Korean War, the Knicks still wanted him,” Dave Minson said. “He just didn’t want to have all the travel and playing on Sundays. He felt his church and family commitments were more important than that.”
Roland Minson and his wife, Carol, served three missions in England for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Minson also served as a bishop and a counselor in the stake presidency in California. From 1961-63, Minson was an assistant coach to Stan Watts at BYU.
In 2013, BYU retired Minson’s jersey alongside former teammate Mel Hutchins.
“Dad was just so pleased that BYU retired Mel Hutchins’ jersey at the same time,” Dave Minson said. “Dad admired his team and his teammates so much.”
“The older you get the longer you like to be remembered,” Roland Minson said in a radio interview in 2017. “We had a miracle team down there (in 1951). We got together a team of players that was just outstanding.”
Funeral service for Minson will be held on Saturday, Jan. 11 at noon in Afton Stake Center Tabernacle.