UK Gets Its Leading Scorer Back for the First Time in 15 Years
Show of hands...who wants to pretend the University of Kentucky's 2020-2021 hoops season never happened?
I'd put up both my hands, but that makes it hard to type.
Yeah, none of us currently alive on this planet have ever seen a 9-16 Kentucky basketball record. "Debacle" feels like an understatement.
Still and all, there WAS talent on that team. What there WASN'T was shooting and, in my opinion, chemistry.
But the tide changed in the off-season with the transfer portal thrown open wide and the NIL ruling by the Supreme Court. I'm not sure if the latter had anything to do with the most recent good news for the Wildcats, but it might have. Regardless, Davion Mintz--Kentucky's leading scorer from last season--has pulled his name out of the NBA Draft and will return to Lexington for another season.
The sharpshooting senior will add to an already experienced line-up head coach John Calipari culled together by picking up top transfers from Iowa, Davidson, Georgia, and West Virginia.
Leave it to Calipari to seize upon the newest college hoops trend--the transfer market. He doesn't complain about change; he embraces it.
And suddenly, there are analysts thinking Kentucky might experience the biggest year-to-year turnaround in the country next season. I'm no professional hoops writer, but I'm in that camp, too. National championship good? I'm not going to go that far, only because the NCAA Tournament can be so unpredictable. It was just seven years ago that we had a title game featuring a 7-seed (UConn) beating an 8-seed (whaddya know, Kentucky). Obviously, neither was predicted to get that far.
Interestingly, the return of Mintz ends a 15-year run of UK hoops seasons in which the Wildcats top scorer did NOT return the following season.
The last time the 'Cats had a leading scorer return to the line-up the next season was in 2006 when power forward Randolph Morris (13 points per game in 2005-06) came back for his junior campaign.
I know some will roll their eyes over the Mintz news, saying, "Well, he was the leading scorer on a NINE AND SIXTEEN TEAM." But so what, he averaged 11.5 points per contest and will only get the opportunity to improve when a better team is surrounding him. In full disclosure, BJ Boston ALSO scored 11.5 per game. He entered the NBA draft and stayed there.
Kentucky fans have a good reason to be excited about 2021-2022. Whether you like John Calipari or not, there's NO WAY he has a second consecutive season that's remotely close to the last one. For one thing, he'll have a LOT of one particular thing at his disposal that he rarely has...