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LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Josh Minott #7 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League on July 13, 2022 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS — Just mere blocks from numerous casinos in which bets are wagered every single second of every day, at UNLV’s campus a vast majority of NBA Summer League participants are betting on themselves. Hoping, fighting and grinding to get that elusive NBA payday.

Well, in Josh Minott’s case, betting on himself paid off. The 45th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves -- who entered the NBA draft after just one season with the Memphis Tigers -- played himself into a $6.8 million contract by the Wolves and deservingly so. 

At just 19 years old, Minott finished Summer League with 12.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He knocked down 41.7% from 3-point range and finished in the top 10 in blocked shots (1.6). 

“It’s competitive. You never know what each day brings, you’re going to battle every day,” Minott said. “I just want to come prepared and learn it, get adjusted to the league, learning new things. I’m a rookie, it’s a transition from college and I’m just trying to get adjusted to it. … Hustle, energy, rebounding, doing the little things, playing my role. Just doing whatever the coaches tell me to do.”

The Wolves’ regular season ended in the first round of the NBA playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies last season, and with Minott playing his one and only college year in Memphis, he was already more than familiar with many of the Grizzlies players. 

During the Timberwolves July 10 matchup vs. the Grizzlies summer squad, Ja Morant was sitting courtside and when Minott went to inbound the ball in front of him, the Memphis superstar let him have the taunts. 

“I went to a few (Grizzlies) games when I was in Memphis, Ja was heckling me when I was on the sidelines,” said a smirking Minott. “It’s nothing new to me, I know those people, they watched us, we watched them. I just got that connection.” 

Minnesota ended up losing that particular summer-league game to Memphis 71-63. Minott had only seven points in 29 minutes, but still dazzled throughout the rest of the box score with five rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. 

“I’m very encouraged, I think the rest of the staff is,” said Wolves’ summer-league coach Kevin Burleson. “I think it has been eight straight days of either playing or practicing. I know a lot of guys’ legs were heavy. Josh made some mistakes like everyone else; this game doesn’t change of what we think about him.”

Throughout all of Summer League, Minott had a veteran-type look on his face. A look you can’t teach or learn, the look of absolute zealousness and focus. 

“It’s how you excel in the league,” said Minott regarding his uItra-competitive demeanor after the loss. “It’s how you excel in life really. It’s how I’ve gotten by. I just want to win, so games like this, shit they don’t feel too good.” 

Not only is Minott’s competitiveness NBA ready, but his wise, grateful and humble outlook is an advanced trait, too. 

“I’m not focusing on the teams that didn’t pick me, I’m really just locked in on the one that did,” said Minott. “I just want to help this team out. 

“I just want to bring everything I have to this organization, this city, the coaches, players. I don’t ever want to be less than what Josh Minott can be. That’s what I try to do each and every day. Whether that’s on the court, off the court.”

Minott donned the No. 7 jersey throughout Summer League and No. 20 for Memphis last year but come the start of the NBA 2022-23 tip-off this fall, be on the lookout for him to be wearing a new number, one that pays homage to his basketball upbringings. 

“In season, I’m actually going to be number 8,” said Minott. “It’s where I started out at. Growing up, like fourth grade, I’ve always been number eight. I’m going back to my roots.”

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