Just ask H.D. Woodson coach Lawrence Mines III. His friends call him Trey.
A native of Chester, Mines coaches, lives and works in Washington D.C., but for the past two years has returned to play in the Tri-City Holiday Classic. While he won in 2015 and was runner-up this past year, a promising and young coaching career has been impressive, if not spectacular.
“His relationship he has with his guys in combination with his knowledge of the game makes him a good coach,” said Thomas Dale coach and life-long friend Braxton Byerson. “Being able to relate to the new style of basketball and applying his fundamental knowledge to that has been a part of the huge success he and his team has acquired.”
In a short four years of coaching (Mines, age 29) he’s racked up 103 career wins. His team has won the last two City Championships in Washington and won last year’s state championship.
Mines, the son of Lawrence Mines Jr. and Robin Mines attended and played basketball for Thomas Dale during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, averaging 20 points per game his sophomore year. His performance earned him all-district, all-Tri-City and all- region honors. After transferring to The Blue Ridge School, he turned down scholarship offers from James Madison and Central Connecticut State to stay home and play at Virginia State.
“The Tri-Cities area has always been home to me and will always be home,” said Mines. “I have strong family ties in Chesterfield as well as Dinwiddie. My mentors and closest friends are all from the area — Harold Deane, Brad, Braxton and Brandon Byerson and Reggie Williams,” he continued. “There are coaches such as Reggie Simon, Willie Charlotte and Bill Lawson that were friends with my father my whole life that I look up to as well.”
What happened at VSU was nothing short of epic.
Mines started all four seasons at Virginia State, scoring more than 1,400 points while setting school standards for 3-pointers made in a career (226) and most points in a game (45). The now head coach earned All-CIAA honors all four years at the school in Ettrick. Historically speaking, he is one of the most decorated athletes in Virginia State history.
“I realized I would rather have a great career and leave a legacy,” Mines said. “That was more important to me than going D-1. Those people at VSU have remained as a family to me and I made the best decision for me and it worked out.”
After his time at Virginia State, Mines made a difficult decision between playing basketball overseas and a job at the Pentagon. He chose the latter. A year later, he began helping out with the H.D. Woodson basketball program. Mines initially helped with JV practices, giving the team a body to practice against. Soon, he was the head assistant. After the head coach stepped down, he was moved to interim head coach, and after making it to the city championship his first season, got the full-time job.
Last season was a storybook one for Mines III and the Warriors. They finished 33-0 and finished ranked No. 9 in the country by USA Today.
He has earned DCIAA Coach-of-the Year honors for the past three season and won the Washington Post Coach-of-the-Year honors in 2015-16. Turns out the decision to forego pro basketball worked out pretty well.
“Somehow God brought basketball back to me,” Mines III said. “I feel like I am living out my dream and my fathers at the same time. Making him and my family proud is something I have always cherished.”
Turns out that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. His grandfather, Mines Sr. starred at G.W. Carver high. His father, Mines Jr. was a standout at L.C. Bird and played college hoops at Carson-Newman (Tenn.), also coaching at L.C. Bird, Thomas Dale and Petersburg high schools locally.
With a future as bright as Mines III, everyone may need their sunglasses, including his father who helped get him to this point.
“His knowledge of the game and his high basketball IQ [will help him continue his success,] said Mines Jr. “That carries over from when he played the game. He’s young and energetic, you can tell the kids relate to him and trust him.”
Mines Jr. still occasionally goes out and helps his son scout opponents and many schemes run by Mines III are modified from his father, sometimes masked so that it looks like one thing, but is actually something else. It’s worked well thus far.
“Right now, he’s a hot commodity,” said Mines Jr.