How close was Yante Maten to eschewing his senior season at Georgia for a career in the NBA?
“It was definitely in consideration,” Maten said on Tuesday. “But I prayed about it, talked to my mom about it and we decided that playing this year would definitely benefit me for both my education and my basketball career.”
Back in the spring, Maten announced that he was declaring for the NBA, albeit without hiring an agent. Although he worked out with several NBA teams, the Michigan native did not receive an invitation to the underclassman combine, which ultimately enabled him to make up his mind.
“At the end of the day it was all left to prayer,” he said. “That’s how I got here in the first place so I’m not going to go anywhere without that, plus I didn’t hear what I needed to hear back.”
Head coach Mark Fox said he did not try to influence Maten either way.
“I really just tried to be the facilitator of information. The NCAA has a process which allows these guys to get feedback as undergraduates and go work out for teams and have direct conversations with teams,” Fox said. “I just tried to be the facilitator of information so Yante could make the most educated decision that he could make. Certainly, his injury last year probably hindered the process because when he was first able to work out he was not physically ready.”
The Bulldogs obviously aren’t complaining.
The 6-foot-8, 243-pound forward is the SEC’s leading returning scorer after averaging 18.2 points per game last season. He also is the league’s active leader in points (1,250), rebounds (606) and blocked shots (149).
A two-time consensus All-SEC honoree, Maten was tabbed on Tuesday by Chris Dortch’s Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as the preseason SEC Player of the Year and a third-team All-American.
“I’m definitely grateful, but at the end of the day I’m not really looking for accolades,” Maten said. “I’m just trying to play my game of basketball and prove a point. If that (awards) come at the end, so be it.”
NOTES: The Bulldogs begin official practice on Saturday at the team’s practice facility. … Maten said that freshman Rayshaun Hammonds has been very impressive from what he’s seen in summer workouts. “I can’t give you all the team secrets, but he’s a great shooter and he can slash to the rim pretty well,” said Maten. …Senior Juwan Parker said he’s not quite 100 percent from his most recent Achilles injury but said “I’m getting close, getting closer every week. I’m feeling really good, actually, six months removed and I can do everything, I’m fully cleared to do everything. I’m just trying to get the little things back.”