Kentucky men’s basketball guard Davion Mintz has submitted his name for the 2021 NBA Draft and will go through the NBA’s evaluation process. He is leaving his options open and has not ruled out a return to UK.
Under NCAA rules, Mintz can sign with an NCAA-certified agent, receive feedback and return to school. Mintz will have until July 7 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine) to make a final decision as to whether he wishes to remain in the draft or return to Kentucky.
“These last two months for my family and I have been filled with a lot of reflection and a lot of personal evaluation,” Mintz said. “I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this past season at Kentucky, a truly unique and unforgettable experience, while also trying to figure out what the next step is for me and my career. My ultimate dream has always been to play at the professional level. I believe at some point, whether that is now or down the road, that is where I will be. Figuring out when that time is right while weighing my love for Kentucky and thinking about the possibilities of next season has not been easy, and to be fully honest and transparent, I have not come to a decision yet of what I will ultimately do.
“However, at this point in time, I believe it is in my best interest to officially submit my name for the 2021 NBA Draft to test the waters and go through a proper evaluation period. I am looking forward to the process and I am going into this stage in the decision-making process with an open mind. I appreciate the support and honesty Coach Cal and the staff have shown me throughout this decision and I want to thank Big Blue Nation for your love and your patience as I take this next step.”
Mintz is the fifth player from the 2020-21 UK roster to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft. Freshman guards Brandon Boston Jr. and the late Terrence Clarke renounced their eligibility and submitted their names for the draft. Senior forward Olivier Sarr will not use the extra season of COVID-19 eligibility and will pursue a professional career. Freshman forward Isaiah Jackson is taking a similar route to Mintz and has declared for the NBA Draft while leaving open the possibility of a return to Kentucky.
As in years past, players can submit paperwork to receive evaluations from the NBA and participate – if invited – in the NBA Draft Combine. At this time, Mintz plans to utilize the current rules in place.
“I am in total support of Davion testing the waters to find out what his options are based on how he finished the year,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “He is doing the right thing by taking his time with his decision, going through the workouts and evaluations, and really getting all the information out there that is afforded to him through the NBA Draft process.
“From his leadership to his shooting to how much he improved over the course of the season, I really enjoyed coaching Davion this last season. I really believe if our team had been better and got into the NCAA Tournament somehow, his path would be clearer. As I told his mom and dad, he is a young man I could coach for 10 years. Whatever he ultimately decides, he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Mintz was an invaluable addition to the 2020-21 Wildcats. In a season in which Kentucky was void of significant returning experience, Mintz stepped up and grew into both a leader and a central part of the offense.
The 6-foot-3 guard led UK in total points (288), 3-pointers (56), assists (77) and double-figure scoring games (17). He averaged 11.5 points per game, including 16.7 points per outing over the last six games. He shot 37.8% from behind the arc and dished out 3.1 assists per game.
For a player many envisioned as a complementary piece at the beginning of the season, he was a vital and indispensable part of the offense by the end.
Mintz got it done everywhere down the stretch as he finished the season with six straight games in double figures, including two with 20 or more points, and 23 combined assists in the final three contests as he took on an increased role at point guard.
The stretch began when he caught fire from behind the arc. Mintz made multiple 3-pointers in 12 of the final 13 games and 33 over that 13-game span.
Beyond the leadership attributes he brought, it was his ability to step up and take the tough shot in big situations – “daggers” as Calipari likes to call them – that endeared him to UK fans. He hit clutch shots at home and on the road vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Arkansas and a game winner against Auburn. Mintz provided what was the feel-good moment of the season when he hit five 3-pointers in just over three and a half minutes early in the second half to turn a tight game into a double-digit rout.
Mintz began his career at Creighton, appearing in 97 career games with 79 starts for the Bluejays. In 2018-19, he started all 35 games in the backcourt, averaging 9.7 points, 3.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 28.8 minutes per game. As a sophomore, in 2017-18, he led the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio. He redshirted in 2019-20 due to an ankle injury.
One of three team captains this season for Kentucky, Mintz was one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which honors student-athletes who excel in four core areas: character, competition, classroom and community service.
Since Calipari joined the Kentucky program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 41 NBA Draft picks over 11 seasons, far and away more than any other school. Included in the 41 are 31 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 21 lottery selections.
Of the 66 players who have finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari (through the 2019-20 season), 41 were selected in the NBA Draft, a 62.1% success rate. Another six of those made the NBA, and the majority of the rest were walk-ons.
Calipari’s players are not only reaching the next level, they are succeeding when they do. Since 2010, eight of his players have garnered 26 All-Star selections. Derrick Rose (from Memphis) was named league MVP in 2011. Five of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Karl-Anthony Towns), three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year (Rose, Tyreke Evans and Towns), and 14 players from Calipari’s first 10 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.
The NBA Draft this season will be July 29.