Over the last few years, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has had success with graduate transfers. Players like Reid Travis and Nate Sestina have been able to come into the UK program and have an immediate impact on the team, especially because of the experience and maturity that each brought with them.
Calipari is hoping for the same thing this season from Davion Mintz, a 6-3 guard who transferred to Lexington after playing three seasons at Creighton. Mintz, who redshirted last season while dealing with ankle injuries, started 35 games the prior season, as a junior at Creighton, averaging 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Bluejays. He was second on the team with 40 steals and made 43 three-point shots.
Mintz knows that his experience of playing in games against Top 25 competition, as he did in the Big East, should help this year’s Kentucky team.
“I’ve been a guy that’s played in big games, played against top-ranked teams,” Mintz said. “I’ve been through hundreds of college practices, hundreds of games, so I’m looking to bring this team everything that I’ve been through.”
Mintz will be one of the more experienced, and older, players on this year’s UK team which, as usual, is loaded with talented freshmen. Mintz thinks his experience can help the young Wildcats, especially because the young group seems willing to listen.
“I think my job is going to be so much easier because this group we have here is so receptive to everything. They’re always looking forward to advice,” Mintz said. “They don’t look at it as if I’m trying to tell them what to do. They’re like, ‘Let me listen to this guy, he’s seen it.’ Although I do bring a lot of experience, it means nothing if guys aren’t willing to hear it. That’s what’s special about this group. Everyone is willing to listen. Everyone is just trying to learn and be their best self.”
Mintz said it was a hard decision to leave Creighton and go to another school but once he made that decision, he’s glad he chose to come to Lexington.
“I immediately thought after a few weeks that this is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life,” Mintz said of coming to UK. “Even so far, just coming in challenging myself and getting better every day, no matter how it turns out there’s no way that I can lose. I’ve gotten so much better just by being here for a few months, and that’s all I asked for. Everything else is a bonus. Me coming in, being better every day and becoming a better basketball player, that’s what I wanted and that’s what I’m getting so far. And I don’t think it’ll stop now.”
UK is making Mintz better and Calipari hopes that Mintz can also make the 2020-21 Wildcats better as well.
“Devin (Askew) and Davion (Mintz) are both different, which is great for us,” Calipari said of the two guards. “They’re playing well. So, the guard play looks to be pretty solid right now.”
It will be Mintz’s job this season to steady the guard play, especially with Askew, Terrence Clark and Brandon Boston Jr. all being true freshmen. That’s where the experience that Mintz gained during his time at Creighton can pay off for this year’s Cats.