Nick Mayo knew he’d have some decisions to make after his junior season with the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team. Now that the season is over, a coaching change adds another thing for Mayo to consider.

After three seasons as Colonels head coach, Dan McHale was fired when the season ended with a 70-66 loss to Morehead State. Eastern Kentucky went 38-55 under McHale, including an 11-20 record this season, in which the team missed the Ohio Valley Conference tournament for a third consecutive year.

Mayo, a 6-foot-9 forward and Messalonskee High School graduate, said Wednesday he’s in a wait-and see-mode regarding his collegiate future. A three-time All-Ohio Valley Conference first team member, Mayo said he is considering putting his name in for the NBA predraft scouting combines, where he can be evaluated. If scouts tell Mayo he’s a likely draft pick, he can forgo his senior year of eligibility. If not, Mayo can return to school, providing he didn’t sign with an agent.

That school doesn’t have to be Eastern Kentucky. While he’d have to sit out a season, Mayo could transfer. Following McHale’s dismissal as coach, ESPN basketball writer Jeff Goodman tweeted that, should Mayo decide to leave Eastern Kentucky, he would be attractive to many schools. Goodman called Mayo “the most talented player in the OVC.”

“Look for Mayo to be a coveted transfer target now,” Goodman tweeted.

Mayo — who averaged 18 points and 6.7 rebounds a game — said he will not make any decision until there’s a new coach in place at Eastern Kentucky.


“I’m definitely waiting to see who we get,” Mayo said.

Mayo added that it’s difficult to see somebody with which he was so close lose their job, but he understands the business of the game. McHale was hired in April 2015, the spring before Mayo arrived on the Richmond, Kentucky campus. Jeff Neubauer, the coach who recruited Mayo to Eastern Kentucky, accepted the head coaching job at Fordham University. After speaking with McHale, Mayo remained committed to the Colonels program.

“I honestly thought they’d give (McHale) one more year, because of all the injuries and illnesses we faced this year,” Mayo said. “It was kind of shocking when it happened.”

Athletic Director Stephen Lochmueller told the men’s basketball team he hopes to hire a new coach before the end of March.

Mayo isn’t the only player contemplating his future with the program.

Lawrence High grad Mason Cooper, who spent the season redshirting with the Colonels, still has four years of eligibility remaining. A first-year member of the team, Cooper was allowed to practice but not play in any games.


“I have a spot (on the team), but I guess it depends on the new coach,” Cooper said. “It’s a scary part of my career right now. A lot of guys on the team are in the same boat as me.”

Whomever Mueller hires as the next Colonels new coach, he’ll most certainly want to build around Mayo, who hasn’t missed a start since joining the Colonels — starting 93 consecutive games in three seasons. Averaging 17 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for his career, Mayo has established himself as one of the top mid-major players in the country.

Last fall, Mayo was on the preseason watch list for the Lou Henson Award, given annually to the top mid-major player in the nation. Scouts have made a handful of NBA visits to Eastern Kentucky to watch Mayo work out.

While the team’s record is not what Mayo hoped for this season, his game continued to improve. Mayo’s shooting percentage went up from .504 as a sophomore to .526, and his 3-point percentage went up from .390 (32 for 82) to .446 (33 for 74). In three seasons, Mayo has scored 1,582 points. If he returns to Eastern Kentucky for his senior season, Mayo is on pace to become the Colonels all-time leading scorer. He is eighth, 250 points behind leader Matt Witt.

Mayo ended the season well, scoring at least 21 points in six of Eastern Kentucky’s seven games. That run included a season-high 36 points in a 70-69 loss to Tennessee-Martin. In those seven games, Mayo shot 50 percent (15 of 30) from 3-point range.

“My 3 ball started to come around,” Mayo said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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