Eastern Kentucky forward Nick Mayo (10) works for a shot as he’s defended by Tennessee forward Grant Williams (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 95-67. (AP photo/Wade Payne)  

Nick Mayo’s final workout was Tuesday with the Charlotte Hornets. Now home in Maine, the Messalonskee High School graduate has done all he can to impress NBA scouts and general managers as they prepare for Thursday’s draft.

“It’s been fun, really,” Mayo said. “That’s the job. The number one priority is getting better and playing basketball.”

In March, Mayo completed his college basketball career at Eastern Kentucky University. A four-time first team all-Ohio Valley Conference selection, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Mayo set the Eastern Kentucky men’s basketball record for career points, scoring 2,316 points for the Colonels. Mayo finished the 2018-19 season ranked second in the conference and 10th in the nation in scoring, averaging 23.7 points per game.

Nick Mayo, a former Messalonskee High School athlete and now a senior at Eastern Kentucky University, speaks with Messalonslee Middle School students in March in Oakland. Morning Sentinel file photo by Dave Leaming

That strong career earned Mayo the opportunity to play in the Portsmouth Invitational, a showcase tournament held in Portsmouth, Virginia in April. In three games in front of scouts from all 30 NBA teams, as well as representatives from European teams, Mayo averaged 14.3 points per game. He shot 53.6 percent from the floor (15 for 28), including a 6 for 8 from 3-point range.

Despite his success at Eastern Kentucky and playing well against top competition in Portsmouth, Mayo knows he’s a longshot to hear his name called Thursday night.

“I probably won’t get drafted. There’s a lot of good talent out there,” Mayo said.

If picked, Mayo will join a short list of Maine natives selected in the NBA draft. Bangor-born but Florida-raised Jeff Turner was selected out of Vanderbilt University as the 17th pick of the 1984 draft by the New Jersey Nets. Old Town native Thomas “Skip” Chappelle was selected in the 11th round of the 1962 draft by the St. Louis Hawks.

Now, the NBA draft is a short two rounds, meaning only 60 players are drafted. Sixty players will be drafted, and 200 players think they should be, Ben Pensack, Mayo’s agent and CEO of Pensack Sports Management Group, said.

“Drafted, undrafted, that doesn’t matter. The goal is to make an NBA roster,” Pensack said.

Tuesday’s workout in Charlotte was the 10th and final workout Mayo had for an NBA team. He also took part in a pro day in Las Vegas on May 27 in front of scouts from each team.

“The majority gave me a lot of good, positive feedback,” Mayo said. “Obviously, some teams told me some things I can work on.”

Pensack said NBA teams see Mayo as a stretch-4, a big man who can also shoot from the perimeter. Mayo’s shooting touch has been a plus, Pensack said, and he stresses that aspect of his client’s game when he chats with scouts.

“I think he’s the best shooting big in the draft class,” Pensack said.

An area Mayo needs to improve is rebounding, and Pensack said he expects that will come as Mayo continues to workout.

If Mayo is not one of the 60 players selected Thursday night, the next step is likely an invitation to join an NBA Summer League team. This year’s summer league runs July 5-14 in Las Vegas. The league acts as a tryout camp for all 30 teams, with each team sending a roster of rookies, second-year players, and players from G League affiliates. This season the league also will feature the Chinese and Croatian national teams for a 32-team field. Each team plays a four-game preliminary round, with the top eight then seeded in a championship round.

“I think it will be fairly soon after the draft (Summer League offers come in),” Pensack said.

The goal at Summer League is to earn an invitation to an NBA training camp, Mayo said. Pensack and Mayo also can explore opportunities to play oversees. If Mayo elects to play in Europe, he’d join Maine natives Troy Barnies and Nik Caner-Medley, who each have enjoyed long professional basketball careers in Europe.

For now, the goal is the NBA. Mayo will watch the draft unfold at home with family and friends. One thing Mayo has learned from the pre-draft process is, have fun with it.

“I’m getting better and playing against some great competition,” Mayo said. “I hope I get a shot, and can’t wait to prove people wrong.”

 


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