Future for Mintz at UK still a mystery

Published 5:27 pm Monday, February 22, 2021

Will grad transfer take advantage of COVID waiver and return to UK?

Kentucky’s roster for next season is impossible to accurately project going into the final few weeks of play and then whatever postseason play coach John Calipari’s team has.

It still seems likely freshmen Isaiah Jackson, BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke are all NBA bound. Same with senior Olivier Sarr.

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It seems safe to assume freshmen Devin Askew and Lance Ware will be back along with sophomore Jacob Toppin. Same with Dontaie Allen — or at least that is my belief. Sophomore Keion Brooks could flirt with the idea of leaving but he figures to be a major piece of Calipari’s rebuilding next year and could be one of the team’s featured players.

That leaves Cam’Ron Fletcher who basically has been suspended since mid-December even though he’s still on the team and whether he stays or transfers is hard to predict.

Then there is senior guard Davion Mintz. He came this season from Creighton as a graduate transfer. However, with COVID waivers for all, he could have another year of eligibility if he wants.

Calipari has signed guard Nolan Hickman and forwards Bryce Hopkins and Daimion Collins. Skyy Clark is a 2022 commit but reclassification speculation never stops about him. West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshwiebe is already on campus and will be eligible either for the entire season or the second semester.

Kentucky is also actively recruiting several other players and then the transfer market will be open — UK added Sarr, Toppin and Mintz this year as transfers.

Mintz would seem to be better than any backcourt transfer Calipari could add if he opted to stay another year, his sixth collegiate season. He’s certainly shown a propensity for hitting key shots and now will have had a full year in Calipari’s system to help him be the leader Calipari needs for his annual young team. He went 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half of Saturday’s stunning win at Tennessee.

He is averaging 10.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game this season. He leads UK with 41 3-pointers.

Mintz expected to be playing for a national championship contender this year, not a team that is now 8-13 even with Saturday’s win at Tennessee. His former team is ranked in the top 20 and NCAA bound but Mintz insists he’s had no regrets about making the move to UK.

“Still excited. Like I said, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been running my marathon and I’ve been chasing my dreams for years. And coming to Kentucky, I knew that a place like this would get me exactly where I need to go at the next level,” Mintz said.

I asked Mintz about the speculation he might return to Kentucky for another season.

“I don’t know what’s my plan, my path, what’s best for me and that’s what I have to evaluate at the end of the season with coaches and my family,” Mintz said.

So no commitment to coming back but also no denying that there could be interest in doing just that.

He’s on track to earn his Master’s degree and returning to school would give him another year to enhance his educational pursuits and finish that degree.

“It will be one of those things where I will have to evaluate more with my coaches and my family,” Mintz said. “I’m very serious about my dreams and I know that, whatever that is, this place can get me where I need to be with my work ethic.

“So I’m just going to finish out the season and see where that takes me.”

He certainly is not projected as a likely pick in either round of the 2021 NBA draft. He would likely be able to find a spot overseas to play next year. But if he returned to UK and flourished, he might play himself into the draft or at worst upgrade his pay scale overseas while also giving Kentucky’s team a huge boost.