This isn’t everything Nick Mayo has worked for, but he’s getting closer, and it’s his best chance yet to get closer still.

Monday, Mayo played his first game with the Miami Heat’s summer league team, and he made an impact.

Mayo scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in 26 minutes of a 106-79 win over the Lakers. He played in games Tuesday and Wednesday, as well.

There were games in Sacramento before the team moved on to the Las Vegas Summer League, in which each of the 30 NBA teams were represented, along with national teams from China and Croatia.

This will be Mayo’s opportunity to showcase his talent against dozens of like-minded players, all with the same goal of earning a rare spot on an NBA roster.

To recap, Mayo graduated from Messalonskee High School in 2015 and went on to an outstanding collegiate basketball career at Eastern Kentucky University. He left EKU as the program’s all-time leading scorer, a four-year first team all-Ohio Valley Conference selection, and as one of the top players at a mid-major program.


Now, Mayo goes to the back of the NBA line.

The NBA Draft came and went just over a week ago, and Mayo didn’t hear his name among the 60 called. Mayo impressed the Heat in a pre-draft workout, though, and soon after the draft was over, Miami called Mayo and offered him all he wanted. An opportunity.

There are 12 players on the Heat’s summer league roster. That includes three players — Duncan Robinson, Yante Maten, and Kendrick Nunn — as well as Miami’s number one draft pick, Tyler Herro, out of the University of Kentucky. Mayo is one of nine rookies on the roster. This is a guarantee: nine rookies will not be on the Miami Heat roster when the season opens in October.

Mayo has some things going for him. He’s produced at each step along the way. In the regular season for Eastern Kentucky, he averaged close to 24 points per game, ranking him among the top scorers in Division I men’s basketball. At the Portsmouth Invitational, a showcase tournament featuring 64 of the top seniors in the country, Mayo averaged 14.3 points per game. He made 6 of 8 3-pointers in the tournament. At 6-foot-9, Mayo has proven he’s a big man who has shooting range from the perimeter and touch in the paint.

As an undrafted player from a mid-major program, Mayo’s hill is steeper than others. Playing well at Portsmouth helped, as did his effort in multiple pre-draft workouts. In the summer league games, Mayo will be tested in a level of play faster than anything he’s seen.

So, let’s look at what he’s done against the next best thing. How did Mayo, who started every game he played in college, perform when Eastern Kentucky played some of the top teams in the country?


Last season, when the Colonels played Tennessee and future Boston Celtics first-round pick Grant Williams, Mayo scored a game-high 23 points on 6 of 15 shooting from the field. He had nine rebounds and three assists, as well as three turnovers.

Twelve days before playing the Volunteers, EKU played Kansas State. Against the Wildcats, Mayo scored 11 points on 3 for 9 shooting, As a junior, Mayo had a 19-point, 10-rebound game against Mississippi. As a sophomore, he had a 15-point, five-rebound effort against Louisville.

As a freshman, Mayo was 4 for 10 from the field with nine points against Kentucky. These games are a small sample size over a four-year span, so take them with a grain of salt or a shrug of your shoulders. If nothing else, they are proof Mayo works hard and is not intimidated when faced with a challenging opponent.

That’s good, because what he’s about to do will be the toughest thing Mayo has done on a basketball court.

Throughout this process, Mayo has constantly said he hopes to prove doubters wrong. It’s a piece of his motivation. He could have been content to earn a college degree and go down as a very good college player. Playing in the NBA is still a longshot, but Mayo has worked hard. A longshot is not a pipe dream.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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