Former Messalonskee High School basketball standout Nick Mayo said he’s accepted an invitation to play for the Miami Heat in the NBA summer league.

Mayo, a four-year standout at Eastern Kentucky University, was not drafted Thursday, but said the Heat quickly contacted him about joining their summer league team.

The NBA summer league is comprised of mostly rookies, second-year players and G League affiliate players. It also gives undrafted free agents like Mayo a chance to impress NBA teams with the hopes of landing a contract.

Nick Mayo, a Messalonskee and Eastern Kentucky University graduate, speaks with Messalonskee Middle School students in March in Oakland. Morning Sentinel file photo by Dave Leaming

“They had the most interest in me after my workout with them that went really well,” Mayo said in a text message. “They called as soon as (the) draft ended about summer league.”

Heat officials declined to comment, saying only summer league rosters have not yet been finalized.

Mayo’s agent Ben Pensack said via text message that undrafted summer league players do not sign contracts but that the team pays for expenses.

Mayo would play summer league games in Sacramento and Las Vegas, Pensack added. The California Classic in Sacramento runs July 1-3. There, the Heat will play three games. Miami will face the Los Angeles Lakers July 1, the Sacramento Kings July 2, and Golden State Warriors July 3.

The Sacramento games are a tune-up for the larger Las Vegas Summer League, which features all 30 NBA teams as well as national teams from China and Croatia. The Las Vegas league goes July 5-15. An 11-day, 83-game tournament, each team will play four preliminary round games, after which the top eight teams will be seeded into a single elimination tournament, with the championship game July 15. Teams that fail to advance out of the preliminary round will play a consolation game, giving each player a minimum of five games in which to impress coaches and player development staff.

“(I’m) so happy and proud of Nick. His relentless approach to becoming the (best) basketball player he can possibly become is showing,” Eastern Kentucky head coach AW Hamilton said in a text message. “The Heat will find out even more how special Nick is when they coach him in game settings.”

Peter McLaughlin, Mayo’s former coach at Messalonskee, watched the draft with Mayo and his family Thursday night.

“I was with (Mayo) until basically the draft got over. I was proud of him. He was a little disappointed he didn’t hear his name called, but he was ready to work hard and in really positive spirits when I left,” McLaughlin said. “When I left last night, he was like, ‘Coach, time to go to work.'”

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

Mayo’s strong collegiate career earned him an spot at the Portsmouth Invitational, a showcase tournament held in Portsmouth, Virginia in April. Scouts from all 30 NBA teams, as well as European clubs, were on hand in Portsmouth, where Mayo averaged 14.3 points per game in three games. Mayo shot 53.6 percent from the floor, including 6-for-8 from 3-point range.

Mayo worked out for 10 NBA teams, including Miami. Pensack said the feedback on Mayo after workouts was teams liked his shooting ability and range, and wanted Mayo to improve his rebounding skills. Mayo averaged 8.7 boards last season for the Colonels, a college career-high.

Thinking of the success Mayo had at Eastern Kentucky, McLaughlin was reminded of the young, constantly improving player Mayo was at Messalonskee.

“It’s been an incredible process. That summer going into his senior year (of high school), he blew the doors off,” McLaughlin said. “The things he’s done, if he and I were talking when he was 14 or 15 and I said, ‘Nick, you’re going to accomplish these things,’ we’d have a nice giggle.”


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