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JAMIE H. VAUGHT: Davion Mintz Says UK Has Helped Him Grow as Player & Person


Davion Mintz (UK Athletics Photo by Chet White)

My teenage son’s current favorite basketball player at UK is Davion Mintz.


I certainly agree with him. Mintz is probably my favorite, too.


The 6-3 guard arguably has been the most productive player for the 2020-21 Wildcats. He has been very dependable and doesn’t make many mistakes. In fact, he has a nice assist/turnover ratio of 62 to 45 going into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with South Carolina at Rupp Arena.


It helps that the graduate transfer from Charlotte, N.C, has valuable experience and is one of the older players on the squad at the age of 22 (23 in June).


Before coming to UK last year, Mintz was a standout at Creighton of the Big East Conference where he had 79 starts in 97 games. As a sophomore, he led the Big East and ranked No. 15 nationally in assist/turnover ratio. But during his senior year when Creighton captured a share of the 2020 Big East championship with an overall mark of 24-7, Mintz redshirted after battling ankle injuries throughout the season.


As you may recall, it was Creighton which finished at No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll, just ahead of No. 8 Kentucky, after the 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.


Now at Kentucky, in addition to his play-making role, Mintz recently is becoming a clutch shooter with game-winning three-pointers against Vanderbilt and Auburn. He leads the Wildcats with 46 three-pointers, hitting 35.4 percent. And he gunned a season-high and career-high-tying 21 points against Florida. (His previous 21-point effort came in 2019 against Marquette.)


In Kentucky’s 70-62 setback to Ole Miss on Tuesday, Mintz, who is currently UK’s second-leading scorer with 11 points (behind Brandon Boston Jr.’s 11.6 points), posted a career-high-tying eight assists along with 10 points. He also committed only one turnover against the Rebels in 37 minutes of action.


UK sophomore Keion Brooks Jr. said Mintz “does a great job of pushing the tempo and getting us great looks.”


Brooks Jr. added that he has faith in Mintz and Devin Askew as UK’s point guards. “They both do a great job getting us into our stuff and they both do the best that they can,” he said. “They’re similar but different. Devin does some things a little different than Davion, but you don’t want two players that are exactly the same.”


And Mintz is one of the good guys to have in the program. He was one of the 30 national candidates who were recently selected for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. (His teammate, Olivier Sarr, was also a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award.)


Mintz, who already has an undergraduate degree in marketing with a grade-point average of 3.02 from Creighton, is currently working on a master’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in sport leadership.


While at North Mecklenburg High School, where he was a four-year starter, Mintz also excelled in classroom and was recruited by a number of Ivy League schools. He was named the school’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year as well as the Class of 2016 Student of the Year.


Mintz said he has no regrets for coming to Kentucky after reaching a low point at Creighton. And he has already thanked the Big Blue Nation for their support despite the team’s struggles on the hardwood floor.


“It’s been a lot of character development, I think, (at UK),” said Mintz, whose nickname is ‘DayDay.’ “I’ve learned so much, and regardless of how things went on the court, I’ve become such a better person and matured my game a lot and matured as a person. I can’t thank (enough) the staff, everyone else around me, the fan base and everyone for just helping develop me in all aspects as a player and a person.


“During that time last year, a little bit earlier, around like the winter part of the year going to 2020, for me at the beginning it was really rough and I felt at that time like it was my lowest point. It was really bad. I was kind of clueless, but then I came here and you have super-high expectations and it’s almost like you’re promised 20 apples and you only get 10, half of what you expect in terms of like our record and expectations that we didn’t fulfill those at the time. It’s tough. It’s hard for you. Me just going through this, figuring this out, especially being challenged to be a leader and a voice during that time.


“It was different for me because, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect coming here. It was demanded of me to be vocal. It challenged me as a person, and I feel like being on someone to have to lean on during these times really made me – I know it’s crazy to say – like grow up even more, like quicker here. Just being in that position it really helped me in terms of, like, communicating with younger guys that also helped me as well.”


As you may know, Mintz participated in UK’s annual Senior Day festivities before the Florida game even though he isn’t sure about his collegiate future. He can play for UK again next season as NCAA has issued an additional year of eligibility for student-athletes because of COVID-19 pandemic.

“No decisions have been made. Absolutely not,” he said before Senior Day. “I think it’s important that I go through this Senior Day. I felt a lot of pain last year, sitting out (with) a cast on my foot during Senior Day at Creighton. Those emotions I felt, I just didn’t want to do that again. I felt it was important for me to go through it and have a little ceremony regardless of my decision.”


Well, my son and I still have high hopes that Mintz will be back in a Wildcat uniform next season.


If he decides to return, that would be awesome news for us and the BBN.


Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey.” He is the editor and founder of KySportsStyle.com Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

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