As good as he was in the regular season, when he averaged more than 20 points and led North Mecklenburg to a conference championship, point guard Davion Mintz said he saved a little extra for his final playoff run.
He had a career-high 41 points and eight assists in his final regular-season game against Mallard Creek on Feb. 12. He topped that in a MECKA 4A conference tournament semifinal a week later with 10 made 3-pointers en route to scoring 43 points against Vance.
In his past five games, Mintz has raised his season scoring average from 20.3 points to 29.6 per game.
“He’s been playing, gosh, unbelievable,” N.C. recruiting analyst Rick Lewis of Phenom Hoop Report said of Mintz, a 6-foot-3 senior. “I think the most impressive thing about him for a point guard is his size and length.
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“And the thing he’s done more than anything is this: He’s always had a really good mid-range jumper, but he’s improved his 3-point shooting. He’s become quite efficient, and he’s got advanced ball-handling skills. Right now, he’s easily a top-10 player in our state.”
Thursday night, Mintz had a triple-double in a 109-84 win against visiting Richmond Senior in the playoffs’ second round: 25 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. North Meck (25-2) is 24-0 against N.C. teams this season and is three wins from playing for a state championship. It has been 10 years since a Vikings team has made it that far.
“That goal is starting to seem real,” Mintz said Thursday after the win against Richmond Senior. “Saturday, we’ll be approaching the (third) round where we lost last year (65-49 to Greensboro Page). It was surreal when we lost last year. I have thought about that game since last year. I can’t stop thinking about it until we get to Saturday.”
Mintz, who will play next season at Creighton, said he has been focused on the playoffs for awhile, hoping to lead his team to a championship.
“I just locked in and got a good focus,” he said. “I settled down in the games and just played. I knew once we approached the playoffs that I was going to turn it up a notch. I wouldn’t say I was holding it in – well maybe a little, but I was waiting for the perfect time to bring this game out, when it was necessary.”
Mintz is one of a handful of players to start at North Mecklenburg for four seasons under coach Duane Lewis. Lewis marvels at his player’s work ethic on the court and in the classroom, where Mintz carries better than a 4.0 grade-point average.
“His work ethic is unbelievable,” Lewis said. “His parents have done a great job. He’s that guy who is working on his game on Friday or Saturday night, when others are playing or partying. He’s always putting something into his game, and that’s why he’s going to play at the highest level.
“A lot of kids say, ‘I want to play D1 (Division I),’ but putting in the work to get there and saying it are two different things. He’s earned everything with a strong will and desire to be the best he can be.”
Lewis said he can sense Mintz’s added focus in his final high school postseason.
“He’s zoned in and the basket seems so big for him,” Lewis said. “He knows it’s the end of the road, and he’s really stepping up and being aggressive. He’s just a special player.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
Mintz’s scoring surge
North Mecklenburg’s Davion Mintz has been on a tear in the home stretch of his senior season. A look at his past five games:
Mallard Creek, Feb. 12: Creer-high 41 points, eight assists
Vance, Feb. 19: Career-high 43 points, including 10 3-pointerss, and 30 first-half points
Hough, Feb. 20: 25 points, including 9-for-9 on foul shots, in MECKA conference tournament final
Skyland Roberson, Tuesday: 14 points, five assists, two steals and not playing a full half in 89-33 first-round playoff win
Richmond Senior, Thursday: 25 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds in 109-84 second-round win