College men's basketball: Syracuse's Mintz will not stop no matter what

Jan. 13—SYRACUSE — Judah Mintz etched the word "relentless," on his forearm with a tattoo at age 16.

The Syracuse University freshman believes the word sums up his style of play and his passion to become a force in men's college basketball.

The 6-foot-3 point guard will display his unrelenting approach when he leads the Orange (11-6 overall, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) into a league game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-8, 1-5) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the JMA Wireless Dome.

Following SU's 82-72 victory over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, Mintz described the inspiration for his forearm ink as self-explanatory.

"Everything I do, I feel like I'm relentless in it, whether it's working out, whether it's school, anything, I'm not going to fail at it in my head," Mintz said. "I'm just going to keep going, even when I have bad days."

He added: "I feel like nobody can stop me when I'm on the court, so just being relentless. I got my shot blocked early in the game and it didn't change a thing for me, just keep going."

Mintz enters the weekend averaging 15.7 points per game to rank sixth among all NCAA Division I freshmen.

He leads the ACC with 2.12 steals per game and is 11th in the conference with 4.1 assists on average. Mintz has started all 17 games and only seven freshmen in the country have topped his average of 32.1 minutes per game.

Mintz has steadily ascended through his adjustment from high school to the ACC, averaging 17.7 points, 5 assists, 2.8 steals, and shooting 82 percent on free throws (42-for-51) over his last eight games.

"I would say the game is slowing down for me, seeing reads, seeing when I can attack and when I can make a play for others," Mintz said. "It's really all slowing down for me, and I can't wait to just keep building with this team."

Mintz has provided instant production and added excitement to the Dome. His aggressive slashing style and ability to finish inside with strength or flare has consistently electrified the home crowd.

His defense atop the 2-3 zone has sparked the bulk of SU's fast-break chances and helped the Orange force an average of 14.1 turnovers by opposing teams, the second-best defensive mark in the ACC.

Mintz has tallied 10 dunks through 17 career games and provided frequent highlights attacking the rim, scoring through contact for traditional 3-point plays and finishing lay-ins with flash around taller defenders.

"I work on everything you see me do on the court, but for the most part, I'm all instinct," Mintz said. "Sometimes I might go for a regular layup, sometimes I'll go for a dunk, and sometimes I might miss a crazy up-and-under, it's really instinct and I work on everything, too."

Mintz has been named ACC Rookie of the Week on three occasions — the most for an SU player since Tyler Ennis was a five-time honoree in the 2013-14 season. He was most recently recognized on Jan. 2.

"He's done a great job, he's controlled the game in every game we've played, and he's a fierce competitor," SU senior shooting guard Joe Girard III said of his rookie backcourt partner. "I love playing with guys like that, and it helps us win a lot of games."

Mintz is a native of Fort Washington, Md., and was a consensus four-star, top-60 player from the prestigious Oak Hill Academy — the same program that produced another famous SU freshman phenom, Carmelo Anthony.

Mintz was the last of SU's six-player rookie class to commit on March 31 after previously pulling a verbal pledge to play for Pittsburgh. He was also recruited by Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Georgetown, Tennessee, LSU, and DePaul, among others.

CAREY OUT FOR YEAR

Syracuse freshman center Peter Carey will miss the remainder of the season and receive a medical redshirt, as confirmed by SU coach Jim Boeheim after SU's 82-72 victory over Virginia Tech on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-11, 200-pound native of Sunderland, Mass., was seen on crutches during the victory and recently underwent a procedure on his right knee.

It was the same healing approach as the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy he received in the opposite knee last year, per Boeheim, while Carey missed his senior high school campaign due to a partial patella tendon tear.

"He won't be able to play, he'll take a medical redshirt this year, which is probably good for him anyway because he needs to get bigger and stronger," Boeheim said. "It's the same thing he had on his other knee, and it worked last year, so we think that it will work this year."

Carey had played a combined 20 minutes in three appearances in a deep reserve role as a rookie, third in the center pecking order behind senior Jesse Edwards and sophomore transfer Mounir Hima.

GIRARD ENTERS ACC HIERARCHY

Girard finished SU's most recent victory with 261 career 3-pointers to enter the top 25 in ACC men's basketball history. The senior shooting guard finished the win ranked No. 24 all-time in the league and is five shy of matching North Carolina's Joel Berry II for 20th-place.

Girard ranks fifth in total 3-pointers in SU history and 32nd in career points (1,419) and is chasing Trevor Cooney for the next spot on each list. Cooney finished with 281 total 3-pointers and 1,437 points.

The Glens Falls native is 52-for-134 from behind the arc as a senior to lead the ACC in total 3-pointers and rank fifth in 3-point percentage.

BACKCOURT SCORING RACE

The SU guard tandem of Mintz and Girard enter the weekend ranked third in combined scoring average among all ACC starting backcourts.

Girard ranks fifth individually at 17.2 points per game and Mintz is 14th at 15.7.

Their combined scoring average of 16.45 ranks only behind the North Carolina State duo of Terquavion Smith-Jarkel Joiner (17.45) and North Carolina's pairing of R.J. Davis-Caleb Love (16.5).