Las Positas College center Donald Mims can’t help but stand out in a crowd. He’s 7-feet tall.
But success on the basketball court takes more than height. There’s preparation, teamwork, footwork, physical strength, controlling emotions, and much more. It's a tall order.
Toward that end, the slim Mims is thriving in coach James Giacomazzi’s program. He's a shot-blocking machine who runs the floor like a guard.
“I love Donald. I’ve known Donald since he was 14 years old and he could barely bench press a toothpick and two olives,” Giacomazzi quipped. “He can run. He can block shots. He can change so many shots. He does so many good things.”
Mims is modest too. After Friday’s 79-61 win over Foothill in which he scored a season-high 20 points, 12 more than his average, and pulled down 15 rebounds, he dished off credit.
“My teammates helped me,” the Central High-Sacramento graduate said. “We worked as a team. We worked together to make sure we do dominate in the paint.”
In the first half, Mims, who was 8 for 10 from the floor overall, attacked the basket with vigor from a variety of angles and altered Foothill’s offensive mindset with devastating explosiveness -- and a gleam in his eye.
He was hit with a technical for hanging on the rim after a dunk, when he appeared to be trying to preserve his ankles.
Mims’ fellow power broker Stokley Chaffee had 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in the Hawks’ 19th win of the season.
Mims, like guard Caleb Baskett, plays with a lot of passion.
“Caleb and Donald are emotional players and we love that about them, but we just try to harness it for good and not for evil,” Giacomazzi said. “We love the passion and the energy that Donald and Caleb bring. They are really strong components to what we are doing this year.”
Giacomazzi and Mims successfully teamed as coach and player at Cosumnes River, winning the Big 8 title in 2014-15 when Mims averaged 4.4 blocks and shot 58 percent from the floor.
Mims is averaging 4.1 blocks this season, and if he keeps his emotions in check down the stretch, look out Coast-North.
“He just needs to continue to be aggressive and not be where like something can take him out of a game,” Giacomazzi said.
Mims says his main objective is to protect the paint on defense, which in turn generates offensive opportunities on the opposite end. He agrees that he has become increasingly more assertive this season.
“Yeah, exactly. It’s all coming together,” he said. “We’re all getting better and better every single game as a team. When we go to practice and everything, things seem to click better.”
Mims came to Las Positas from Midland College in Odessa, Texas, where he transferred to from Cosumnes River.
A hard worker in the gym, Mims says his doctor tells him his metabolism is so high that he won’t be able to gain as much weight as he wants.
He says he “tries to be faster than the rest of the ‘bigs,’ because I have speed and stuff like that. Strength is not a factor so I have to use my speed more.”
The dynamic Hawks occasionally can go into lulls on offense against well-constructed defenses, but they can also go on Golden State Warriors-style runs in the blink of an eye.
Should the Hawks ever falter in a game, Giacomazzi let's them know about it.
“Coach tells us when we’re doing that, for sure,” Mims said. “He doesn’t like that at all. He doesn’t like any slacking. He’ll see that a little bit and he’ll go crazy. You’ll see him on the bench. He’ll go bananas over there.”
Emotions aside, Giacomazzi has been effective at showing players proper techniques in person and on film, to help them sort out the puzzles.
“He’ll give us every strategy he can,” Mims said. “He just wants us to have positive attitudes, stuff like that.”
All things seem positive these days for the Hawks.
As for Mims, he’ll be ready to rise -- real high -- to the challenge again on Wednesday night against Ohlone.
-- Matt Schwab