What drove Davion Mintz back to Kentucky?


Kentucky Wildcats guard Davion Mintz (10) dribbles the ball up the court during the University of Kentucky vs. Louisiana State University men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 82-69. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

The pieces of the 2021-22 Kentucky men’s basketball have fallen in place and may be wrapped up with the return of Davion Mintz

Mintz and the rest of the returning roster from last season are looking forward to having a true Kentucky experience. 

“Not having that experience, I think that took a huge toll on everyone in the country,” Mintz said. “Having a fanbase like Kentucky, that can change a lot of things; having that group of support behind you for one more year took a huge part in my decision.”

Mintz was Kentucky’s leading scorer a year ago. His return marks the first time the Wildcats have returned their most proficient scorer since 2006-07 when Randolph Morris returned to Lexington for his junior campaign.

With the addition of several proven shot-makers joining John Calipari’s squad this season, Mintz won’t have to carry the load when it comes to making big-time shots this winter.

“I think that experience factor is going to be huge and it’s going to pay off for this team,” he said of the new additions to the team. “It is extremely different from last year where we had a lot of new guys coming in. While these are new guys, these are guys that have seen different things throughout their time and have played at high levels already.”

Now that Mintz has returned for his extra year of eligibility, the total number of guards on the roster moves up to six compared to four from last season. 

“I think it’ll be great, honestly,” Mintz said. “I knew we needed the roster additions the coaches made this year. That was the part of our team where we struggled last year so I knew we would have to make some additions to our backcourt. That didn’t surprise me at all … A lot of talented players back there, a lot more shooting so I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Coming back to Kentucky would mark his sixth season in the collegiate ranks, but Mintz is in no rush to take his talents the professional route.

“I understand that I’m a late bloomer,” he said. “Proving [my game] one more time and that I can go out as a winner, I think that’s a great opportunity.”

Mintz said he’s been working on many aspects of his game from footwork to his jumpshot release, getting off faster, etc. so when it comes time to go pro this time next season, he’ll be ready to take that next step.

While he hasn’t been able to see the new team in-person yet, he knows the team is motivated to a single goal this season — to win. 

“Living in the past is not what you want to do but honestly, we won nine games last year. If that’s not motivation for anybody, I don’t know what is,” Mintz said. “I pride myself on winning and I need to prove that, so that’s something I won’t forget … We’re going to use that motivation, we’re going to live off that and I think it’s going to be a great year.”