The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on us all, but on Friday, John Calipari raised awareness for the toll it’s taking on his players during a conversation with Paul Finebaum. This morning, grad transfer Davion Mintz opened up about the pandemic, which has robbed the team of a huge part of the Kentucky Basketball experience.
“I think it’s tough for us all,” Mintz told reporters on Zoom. “It’s kind of very different for [the younger] guys because they haven’t had the normal experience. I feel terrible for them because these are really good players and really good guys. Everyone deserves an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of big crowds. But it’s completely different and who knows when it will change.”
Right now, Kentucky’s players are sequestered to the bubble between the lodge and the practice facility. With the knowledge that even the smallest slip up could jeopardize the season, Mintz said even going out to get food feels like a risk. If one player, coach, trainer, or support staff member tests positive, the entire team must suspend activities for 14 days.
“The isolation part, just not being able to get out and experience. You’ve got to be very careful with where you’re going, curfew times, just trying to be mentally sane. Knowing, all right, it’s probably safer for me to go to the gym or DoorDash food than go get it myself.’ It’s just having the responsibility is the hardest part.”
At 22, Mintz is an old man in Kentucky Basketball years, but even age can’t prepare you for something like this.
“Just by having people that I talk to that they’re helping me through the situation,” he said of how he’s helping his younger teammates. “I mean, I’m going through it too. It’s pretty tough, and just sharing information that I’m talking with my previous teammates and my friends across the country. Guys who have had situations where we could go home and see families and how they’re coping with not having that luxury anymore and just sharing that with these guys here. Everyone is facing what we’re going through right now. We’re probably in the gym than a lot more people across the country, so that’s helping us. It’s just one of those things that we can’t escape from. We have to deal with it and we have to act responsibly until times are better for us to go back to some sort of normalcy again.”
In the past few days, Florida, Ole Miss, and Tennessee have all delayed the start of their seasons due to positive tests. With 48 hours until tipoff of his debut as a Kentucky Wildcat, Mintz admitted the pressure to keep the bubble tight is mounting.
“That’s the tough part right now especially going right to the tipoff that you have these unfortunate things happen. That’s another tough part. You’ve just got to stay focused through the situation and know the importance of health and wearing a mask and the importance of social distancing because it could easily be us if we have the smallest slip up. This is still important for us guys. We try not to get too caught into the negative of what’s going on and guys losing a few weeks into the season. We’re just really trying to focus on us and make sure that we’re doing our parts so we can’t be to blame when things like this happen.”