Nick Mayo began his first season of college basketball at Eastern Kentucky University with no expectations. As the season wore on and Mayo continued to earn Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week honors, the Messalonskee High School graduate had an idea that some postseason honors would come his way.

On Tuesday, Mayo was named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. The 6-foot-9 forward also was selected to the All-OVC first team.

“Before the season started, I didn’t see myself getting (postseason recognition),” Mayo said. “Then I started playing and I got the freshman of the week a few times, and I had a good feeling I was going to get freshman of the year.”

Still, Mayo and his teammates would rather still be playing. Eastern Kentucky went 15-16 this season, including a 6-10 record in conference play, a rebuilding year under new head coach Dan McHale. The Colonels failed to qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

“I wish we were still in season,” Mayo said.

Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year and a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball as a senior at Messalonskee last season, Mayo was an immediate impact player for Eastern Kentucky. Named the conference freshman of the week nine times, Mayo averaged 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks per game and started all 31 games for the Colonels. Mayo shot 60.7 percent from the field, 55.6 percent from 3-point range and 80.2 percent from the foul line. Mayo’s field goal percentage was fourth best in the conference and 18th in the nation.

Mayo scored 20-plus points in eight games, including a season-high 28 on 10 for 14 shooting against Southern Illinois on Jan. 16. Mayo had three double-doubles in his rookie season, and shot 70 percent or better from the field in 11 games. Mayo was the only Eastern Kentucky player to be named to the All-OVC first team. He is the fourth Eastern Kentucky player to earn freshman of the year honors, and the first since Adam Leonard shared the award in 2006-07.

“It’s a long season, a lot of hard work,” Mayo said. “You learn how to play at this level with all new coaches and all new teammates.”

Mayo and his teammates are taking some time off from basketball right now. When school resumes after spring break in late March, Mayo will get back into the weight room and individual workouts. Two of the things Mayo wants to focus on this offseason are rebounding and defense.

“I’m really trying to improve every part of my game,” Mayo said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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