High School Sports

Heralded Vikings Davion Mintz, Jaylen McManus make North Meck a favorite to win 4A title

North Mecklenburg’s Jaylen McManus, left, coach Duane Lewis and Davion Mintz believe the Vikings have the potential to play for this season’s state championship.
North Mecklenburg’s Jaylen McManus, left, coach Duane Lewis and Davion Mintz believe the Vikings have the potential to play for this season’s state championship. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Between the two of them, North Mecklenburg High’s Davion Mintz and Jaylen McManus have received more than 40 college basketball scholarship offers.

Mintz, a 6-foot-3 senior point guard, has committed to Nebraska’s Creighton University, which plays in the Big East.

McManus, a 6-6 senior forward with 3-point shooting range, says he will choose a college in April. Among those he’s considering are Charlotte, College of Charleston, Creighton, Kansas State, Miami, Tulsa and UNC Wilmington.

Led by the two stars, who are ranked among the state’s top 20 seniors, North Mecklenburg will be a favorite to win the 4A state championship. The Vikings won the 2005 N.C. 4A title and lost in the 2006 final.

“We have to get everybody to go after one goal,” said Mintz, who has a 4.0 grade-point average according to coach Duane Lewis. “We have to work hard, not slack off and don’t get complacent. At North Mecklenburg, everyone wants your head.”

While Apex’s Quentin Jackson is No. 12 in the Observer’s Top 25 N.C. rankings for the class of 2016, Mintz (No. 17) and McManus (No. 19) are the next two highest-rated players who attend a public school.

With that talent, Lewis knows expectations are high for his Vikings in the public school 4A class. Lewis, whose team was 23-4 last season, enters his 17th season hunting his 15th playoff appearance.

“Last year’s team was very good,” Lewis said, “but this year, the thing we have going for us is we do have nine seniors. And Jaylen and Davion, our leaders, are both good kids and players. Davion’s started for us since ninth grade. He’s a better kid off the court than on it and he’s pretty good on it.

“Jaylen is so multidimensional. He can go down low and post people up, but now he’s expanded his game to where he can really shoot the ball. That’s why so many high-level schools are involved with him. He’s just a mismatch for a lot of schools, especially at the high school level.”

North Meck was 19-1 last season and ranked No. 1 in the state when McManus violated a team rule and was forced to miss the rest of the season. North Meck went 4-3 the rest of the way and lost 65-49 in the third round of the 4A playoffs to Greensboro Page.

McManus said he’s eager to return to the court.

“There’s a lot of hype around our team, but we don’t worry about the hype,” he said. “We play with a chip on our shoulder and we go day-by-day and work hard. We always have to play humble. When you try to live up to the hype, most teams fail.”

And North Meck plans to avoid that.

“I feel like we can get to the state,” Mintz said. “That’s the ultimate goal every season. I feel we can make it happen if we have one goal in mind. That’s why we practice hard every day and play every Tuesday and Friday.”

Wertz: 704-358-5133; @langstonwertzjr

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