A new day arrives and as February begins the Kentucky Wildcats are poised to make a run toward the post season.
Sure, there is a long way to go yet, but this is the place that Coach Cal tends to work his magic, getting a team positioned to come together and be the best they can be together. To make that happen, there are so many elements that have to click. The past two games gave us a chance to see a team destroy Kansas at home and then struggle but still push back Vanderbilt at home.
There are a lot of bright spots for the Cats this year, one of those is Davion Mintz.
In Mintz, the Wildcats returned their leading scorer and a strong leader, but in hearing him explain what led up to his career high, 21 point night against Vanderbilt in many ways gives us a peek into what really makes him the player he is.
“When teams come in here, they want to play hard,” said Mintz, who got his share of bruises from a very physical game. “The SEC is a competitive conference and Vanderbilt came to fight and so does every other team we play in this conference.”
“Davion played unbelievable today,” coach Calipari said. “Really, really good. And you know who was happy for him? TyTy (Washington). Hugged him. That’s what this team has been.”
Mintz has found his place in a backcourt of talent that usually means he is not starting but comes in the game as the 6th man off the bench. But the recent story that has been shared here on Sea of Blue and other sources, is a reminder of the kind of heart he brings to this team. Before we forget it in the ramp up to another game, let’s pause and remember it one more time.
As Mintz explains it he was walking out of the locker room after the Kansas game, a game where he went scoreless. He noticed a young girl waiting to meet him. She was crying and he asked her…
“What’s going on?”
She replied, “I’m just so excited to meet you. This is my first time, and you are my favorite player. I’ve been waiting a year…”
This encounter came on a night where Mintz had not played a lot and if you look at the stat sheet seemed almost nonexistent. He had been struggling, but in that moment, he explained…. “Just to realize that God made me somebody that could make someone feel special about themselves that just sent me over the top... it meant so much to me that I could mean so much to her … these people have personal connections to us.”
It drove Mintz back into the gym in Lexington to prepare for Vandy. And he came ready to play. As he tried to summarize why so many fans see him as a personal favorite, he tapped into what most of us who watch the team have seen….Mintz said, “I think I just fight….and my teammates just do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
Haha Let’s do it! Just let me know the color https://t.co/ykdAkXz2l2— Davion Mintz (@deemintz1) February 3, 2022
Yes, as we have heard, been reminded of, and probably said out loud many times, “it is just a game.” And it is – it is just a game. But for a few hours, there is a connection between the amazing young men that put on the UK uniform and the Big Blue Nation. Every shot, every dunk, every stop, and every whistle ripples through the fans and there is a pulse that beats in the heart of every Wildcat that believes you can refuse to lose, you can give it your best, and you can win…. Davion Mintz as the senior leader of this edition of the Kentucky Squad understands that – his influence is an important cog in this basketball machine that is getting ready for the final stretch of the SEC regular season. On a team of stars that shine bright – Mintz is one that shines just a little bit brighter because he understands just how important this team is to Kentucky.
And Mintz is important to Big Blue Nation as well.
Davion Mintz stopped by our Main Adoption Center to shop for supplies for his dogs. You know we are wild about our @KentuckyMBB wildcats and we were so excited to meet him and hear his stories. We love people who love their animals and Davion is one of those people! pic.twitter.com/vJ1UUXuWoO— Lexington Humane (@LexingtonHumane) February 3, 2022