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The Importance of Davion Mintz

Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Calipari has successfully reloaded another roster after losing five early entrants to the NBA Draft and Nate Sestina exhausting his eligibility after his graduate transfer season.  Despite only returning Keion Brooks from last year’s roster, Kentucky fans are as excited as ever for this upcoming season.  The first reason for excitement and optimism is the nation’s best recruiting class headlined by 5-star wings B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke.  Along with fellow 5-star recruit Isaiah Jackson, the Wildcats landed a trio of high 4-star recruits in Devin Askew, Lance Ware, and Cam’Ron Fletcher.  The other, more recent, exciting piece to the puzzle has been the addition of Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr.  Sarr, a true 7-footer and All-ACC performer a year ago, was widely considered as the best big man in the transfer portal.

Having said all of that, there is one major addition that seems to be getting next to no attention over the last month or so.  I am talking about Creighton graduate transfer and combo guard, Davion Mintz.  Mintz earned a starting role in the Bluejays’ backcourt about halfway through his freshman season and never looked back, starting a total of 79 games over this 3-year career.  However, a high ankle sprain just before his senior season began forced him to redshirt and he ultimately decided to enter the transfer portal after earning his degree from Creighton.  Mintz will most likely be the Wildcats starting point guard when the season begins and has shown his versatility to play on and off the ball throughout his career.  At 6’3” and 185 pounds, Mintz averaged 9.7 points, three rebounds, and three assists per game as a junior while connecting on 43 3-pointers at a 34.7% clip.  He is a career 35% 3-point shooter with 71 makes.  I will be breaking down his film below, but this is a guy that Big Blue Nation should be very, very excited about.  Having a veteran presence in the backcourt to help mentor the talented newcomers will be invaluable.  Also, Davion Mintz is a very good player in his own right who looks to be a double-digit scorer, a valuable perimeter shooting threat, and will handle the ball without turning it over (nearly a 2:1 career assist-to-turnover ratio).

Before the addition of Olivier Sarr there was real concern about the status of the frontcourt after Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery each entered the NBA Draft.  However, losing Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyrese Maxey left the backcourt in flux just as much.  Devin Askew is extremely talented, but leading an offense in the SEC when you are just supposed to be a high school senior is easier said than done.  B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke are two of the most talented wing players John Calipari has ever had in Lexington, but they still need someone to get them the ball.  This is where Davion Mintz becomes so valuable.

3-Point Shooting

Davion Mintz will provide immediate 3-point shooting help which will be very welcomed in Lexington after last year’s team connected on just 157 total 3’s, one of the lowest numbers in the country.  During his three seasons at Creighton, Mintz was a 35% shooter from deep and his 43 makes as a junior would have been second on Kentucky’s team last season.  As the film will show, Mintz has the ability to make 3’s both off the catch and off the dribble which will prove valuable as Devin Askew develops and earns more and more minutes as the lead guard.  Mintz has a quick release and will not turn down shots when he has the space to get them off.  In 2018-2019, Mintz’s last season before his season-ending injury last year, he attempted 124 shots from beyond the arc which is only 21 less than Immanuel Quickley.  Some Kentucky fans get tired, rightfully so, of preseason hype surrounding the shooting ability of Calipari’s teams, but Davion Mintz is a proven shooter who has made 3’s at a high level in college for several years.

Scoring Off the Dribble

Along with his perimeter shooting ability, Mintz is a very capable scorer off the dribble with an aggressive streak.  In his junior season, he attempted more shots than Ashton Hagans and Nick Richards did last season.  He is definitely more comfortable going to his right, but he has showcased the ability to score going to the rim, finishing through contact, and also scoring on pull-up jump shots.  Mintz is a very good ball-handler which allows him to break down opponents off the dribble and create some space to get his jumpers off.  Though he isn’t necessarily an oversized guard by any means, Mintz seems to seek out contact as he drives to the basket and he showcases that in some of the clips above as he finishes through defenders at the rim.  He isn’t an overly explosive athlete either, but still has some above the rim finishes and gets pretty good elevation on his jump shots as well.  Overall, whether he spends more time playing on or off the ball, Mintz has proven to be a capable scorer at the high-major level.

Passing

Mintz’s scoring ability is certainly important and having a veteran to count on when things get tough will be a nice luxury, but if he begins the season as the point guard, his playmaking and ability to distribute will be a major key.

Despite splitting time between point guard and shooting guard, Mintz averaged three or more assists per game in both his sophomore and junior seasons at Creighton.  He has a good assist-to-turnover ratio for his career which proves that he can make plays without turning the ball over as well.  As you can see from the highlights above, Mintz is very good at hitting the big man in the pick-and-roll and is comfortable throwing the lob (a staple of great Kentucky point guards).  While the traditional pick-and-roll generally isn’t a staple in a Calipari offense, with Mintz and Olivier Sarr being so comfortable in those settings it may be something fans can expect to see a little more of this season.  While the potential alley-oop passes to Sarr may not be the most exciting, having a ball-handler you can trust to make the easy play is as valuable as anything and that is exactly what Mintz has shown over his college career thus far.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited for the 2020-2021 Kentucky Wildcats.  Despite only returning 4.5 points per game from Keion Brooks, the number one ranked recruiting class and arguably the best graduate transfer in Olivier Sarr (eligibility still to be determined) has the ‘Cats as a preseason top 10 team to many.  However, a seemingly forgotten and overlooked piece is Davion Mintz, who will be a major contributor in the backcourt.  His versatility to play on and off the ball will allow for Devin Askew to develop at his own pace to begin the season.  Additionally, his proven 3-point shooting ability will be helpful if it happens to take B.J. Boston or Terrence Clarke a few extra games to adjust to collegiate competition.  Mintz should be a steadying presence in the Kentucky backcourt and, as the film should show, he is a good enough player to garner his own excitement in Big Blue Nation.

@BRamseyKSR

Article written by Brandon Ramsey

14 Comments for The Importance of Davion Mintz



  1. JT55
    2:45 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    If Sarr is ineligible, this team has a very limited ceiling.



  2. BowdenQB4ever
    3:52 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    Most fans I know are cautiously optimistic, at best. To say fans are as excited as ever and Cal has “reloaded again” is either stupid or dishonest. This is the second lowest rated class Cal has signed since he came to Lexington, and we have no contributors returning. We just saw multiple kids with no chance of getting drafted leave town as quick as they could. Fans are frustrated and see through the hype of a #1 recruiting class, we know they don’t translate well to championships. This is lazy and insulting to your audience. You guys should go back and read some of the KSR archives in the Beisner days, this site didn’t build an audience by being ignorant cheerleaders. Matt gets a little access and suddenly it’s all hype and Yahtzee’s.



    • Skooms
      7:45 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

      Second lowest rated class??? According to…. You?? We haven’t had a Top 5 recruit since Skal…. Until this class. We have 2 Top 10 recruits this year too. That hasn’t happened since the Fox, Monk, and Bam class. Cautiously optimistic at best huh? Go cheer for L1U6 then, and quit acting like a spoiled B.



    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:49 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

      Second lowest rated class according to what? Add in Sarr and Mintz and this is a very good class. I’m excited.



  3. IrishCat
    4:02 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    I believe he will be a starter and vital to the success of this team. His sophomore year was excellent, and if you can be a productive point guard in the Big East you can do it in anywhere.



  4. jaws2
    4:28 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    I’m not certain ANY coach in America could have achieved what Cal has here during his tenure. I just can’t see it. Having said that, I still believe he cost us a title in 201o and the 38-1 team. He’s just too damn stubborn sometimes for his and the kids own good. Regardless, I just don’t get overly excited anymore over recruits or recruiting in general. I hope this guy helps us out. Next year will be what it will be.



  5. VirginiaCat
    4:37 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    The tone of your comments may be unnecessarily caustic, but can’t disagree with your main points. I haven’t run into many Kentucky fans that are “excited as ever.” We have been down this road before and experience has cautioned against unbridled optimism. I also a little skeptical of the statement that Cal has “successfully loaded another roster.” We are taking talent in the front door, yes, but losing it out the back door. Cal builds rosters that have a shelf life of around one year. That undermines experience, consistency, and is not a formula for championships. If the goals is a string of top recruiting classes and getting players to the NBA as fast as possible, we are clearly #1. If we want stable, balanced rosters that emphasize program goals, we will need to move in a different direction.



  6. BluemanGreen
    5:04 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    7 freshmen coming in. #1 recruiting class in country. Mix of lottery picks and guys who will need time to develop and will stick around…top transfer in the country who is a 7ft big man. Keon is back and he is due to bust out in a big way. Dontae Allen will be back after sitting out and he scored 50/game in high school. We just lost our whole team & reloaded with this! What the HELL are you guys complaining about?! Good God people go cheer for Loserville if you want something to complain about! I’m so sick of some of our fan base having such a negative ass whiny attitude. We have an amazing program-be supportive! GO BIG BLUE!



    • VirginiaCat
      7:49 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

      What you so eloquently refer to as “negative ass whiny attitude” is sober reflection. You highlighted the problem, unintentionally, when you referenced the fact that “we just lost our whole team.” No other team in college basketball has the kind of turnover rate that we have had under Cal. No other program loses its entire team, including players who have no business declaring for the draft. My point is that talent is not enough if you don’t have a foundation on which to build.



  7. BigTimeOwen
    5:15 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    I’m excited to see Brooks – hopefully – be the guy in charge. He had some solid moments and certainly got better as the season went on even when he wasn’t getting tons of minutes. I think fundamentally he’s about where PJ was when he came back and maybe even put up more consistent efforts although played a smaller role than PJ did his freshman season. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him have a breakout season next year.

    As for Mintz, I feel like our freshman PG performance has been spotty, especially to start the season, compared to some of our past guys so I’m glad we have a veteran like Mintz to come in. If we’re lucky, he thrives in this system and blows up–or maybe one of the freshmen does, but either way it’ll be good to have a guy that isn’t coming in being as a turnover machine right out of the gate.



  8. dcforuk
    9:32 pm May 24, 2020 Permalink

    Getting Sarr eligible is critical. His presence relieves not only provides an inside presence but is a pressure release off of the two top ten recruits. They are still freshman. Pressure can turn you into diamonds but can crush you, too. Sarr is very important.



  9. satcheluk
    11:35 am May 25, 2020 Permalink

    I’m not sure if I am a typical UK fan, but thought I’d share my perspective. I became a basketball fan when I moved to Lex in 1981 10 yrs old. I had been raised an FSU football fan, as my dad played baseball there. I’ve been a diehard fan, though I prefer football as a sport, so recently my basketball is riding shotgun. At this point, I don’t generally read any basketball articles and I don’t pay any attention to recruiting, but I never miss a game. I love Cal, what he does for the program and how he develops these young men so quickly into great players and good citizens. Having said that, I have very little emotional connection to any individual players. Nothing like I had with Turpin, Minnefiled, Rex, Mash, Walker, Bogans etc. I am still as emotionally connected to the team, but I have a hard time remembering the names of the players a year or two after they leave. My fandom has evolved into a type of ambivalence that disappears on game days. I say this without judgement, as I am not against change and actively seek it out in other parts of my life. I wonder how this compares with other fans. I know a lot of people the change, which I have a hard time understanding, as the world is constantly changing, so it must be exhausting trying to stop the inevitable.



    • satcheluk
      11:36 am May 25, 2020 Permalink

      *a lot of people hate change



  10. VirginiaCat
    3:59 pm May 25, 2020 Permalink

    IMO, the turnstile nature of the program has resulted in a less emotional connection to the team. I have been a die hard fan all of my life who never missed a game and took loses very hard. In recent years, not so much. I often monitor game scores online rather than watching from start to finish. I still hate to lose, but losses don’t bother me as much as they once did. I love Kentucky basketball and always will, but don’t feel as connected as I once did.