Kentucky Wildcats guard Davion Mintz and center Olivier Sarr have been named candidates for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award, the school announced Wednesday.
This award is for eligible student-athletes who have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
Thirty candidates have been selected for the award which focuses on the total student-athletes and encourages them to use their platform to make positive impacts as leaders in their communities.
The field will be narrowed down to 10 finalists in late February, and those names will be placed on the official ballot for voting with the media, coaches and fans. The winner will be announced at the 2021 NCAA Final Four.
Mintz has appeared in 115 career games and made 93 starts. A contributor in all phases of the game during his career spent between Creighton and Kentucky, Mintz leads UK with 30 3-pointers this season, is averaging 9.9 points per game and has led UK in scoring a team-high-tying seven times. Mintz has scored scored in double figures in 35 career games and led his team in steals in more than 20.
The Charlotte (NC) native earned an undergraduate degree in marketing from Creighton University in May with a grade-point average of 3.02. He was also a 2017-18 Big East All-Academic Team selection. At Kentucky, he is pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in sport leadership. As a high school student, he was recruited by a number of Ivy League schools where he earned honor-roll accolades and was a member of the Top 100 Young Black High School Students of Charlotte and a North Carolina Boys State Delegate.
During his undergraduate career at Creighton, the Bluejays participated in more than 70 hours of community service each year. Projects included everything from reading at local schools to visiting and befriending patients at the local children’s hospital. Mintz also was a regular participant at the QLI developmental center. The center was specifically designed for people who were paralyzed or suffered significant injuries from incidents such as car accidents.
Mintz points to time at the children’s hospital and the developmental center as his favorite projects he’s participated in during his time as a collegiate athlete. The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented this team from partaking in a number of traditional Kentucky community service projects, but Mintz and Sarr both participated in the annual Christmas drive where the team – with the support of John and Ellen Calipari and local businesses – selects around 10-12 families to provide food, gifts, rent checks and other needs to identified families.
While at Creighton, Mintz also participated in a black student’s bible study. The organization was school funded where minority students gathered weekly to share Bible verses and offer advice/support to fellow students. If basketball prevented him from attending in person, he often time FaceTimed or called in to continue to participate.
At Kentucky, Mintz and Sarr have played a leadership role for a UK team that featured 10 new players to the program, including seven freshmen, and are two of the team’s captains. During the summer, the duo was two of the leaders who helped initiate a players-driven message regarding social injustices in the country. The initiative resulted in the players producing a public message brining attention to the cause, as well as internal conversations with teammates and the coaching staff about their own experiences.
Sarr has appeared in more than 100 career games with nearly 50 starts. As a Wildcat, Sarr has produced three double-doubles and is averaging 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Prior to his season at Kentucky, Sarr was an All-ACC performer at Wake Forest.
Sarr is pursuing a degree in communication and is on track to graduate in May of 2021. He owns a 3.337 combined grade-point average between his time at Wake Forest and Kentucky and was an All-ACC Academic Team honoree three times and has been a Dean’s List member every semester.
At Wake Forest, Sarr engaged in nearly 100 hours of community service. Some of his favorite projects include: “Project Pumpkin,” which was a Halloween-themed carnival for kids; “Hit the Bricks,” a run to raise awareness and funds for cancer research; “Campus Kitchens,” where he would deliver meals to needy neighborhoods; and his visits to the local children’s hospital. The hospital visits are what he considers the most meaningful to him as he interacted with patients and families of children faced with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
Sarr’s post-graduate career aspirations include a professional basketball career, but he knows one day the ball will stop bouncing, and when that happens, he is inspired to give back to Senegal, his Dad’s native country. Sarr spent most summers with family in Senegal as a youth. He aspires to build a school or provide aid to hospitals to better the life in a place that means so much to him.