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What is your draft projection for Yante? Sure did hate seeing him leave.
John Vaughn, Newnan
The fact that your question was submitted using only his first name speaks volumes about how Yante Maten is thought of within the Dawg Nation. He achieved one-name status at UGA, like Herschel or Dominique. It was well-earned as Maten was named 2018 SEC Player of the Year, joining Dominique Wilkins (1981) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2013) as the third Georgia player to earn the honor. He left the Bulldogs as Georgia’s first three-time All-SEC honoree in more than 25 years and just the sixth in program history. So he did some incredible work at UGA, and it was recognized locally and regionally.
Nationally, however, Maten is not as well known. Nonetheless, he has generated a lot of interest from the NBA. That’s not to say he is in line to become a lottery pick come Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. He definitely won’t be in that group. But there has, and continues to be, considerable intrigue surrounding Georgia’s star power forward.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 8, 2018
To answer your question, I reached out to Austin Walton, Maten’s Atlanta-based sports agent. Walton told me that Maten has been invited to work out for 14 NBA teams. Among them, he worked out for the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Lakers last week. Maten also worked out for 21 teams at his pro day. And that’s on top of his appearance at the NBA combine and all the teams that saw him at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
In summary, every NBA team has gotten a good, long look at Maten.
“He’s had a lot of exposure,” Walton said. “We had to turn down some things just because we haven’t had enough time. He was seen by every team at least three times and 14 of them much more than that. High exposure, for sure.”
Apparently, they like what they’re seeing. Maten certainly did his part.
Maten led all prospects at the combine with 18 reps of 185 pounds in the bench press. He also had the No. 2 time among big men in the three-quarter sprint and finished in the top 3 in shuttle and lane agility drills. Meanwhile, he measured at 6-foot-8½ and 246 pounds with a 7-1 wingspan and only 8 percent body fat.
“He tested well,” Walton said. “He showed them he’s agile enough to play with guards and forwards and strong enough and long enough to play some 4 and maybe small-ball 5. His numbers bear that out. He’s one of the most polished offensive players in the draft. The biggest thing is he can bring that type of effort defensively.”
Looking at the many mock drafts that are out there, most are projecting Maten as a second-round selection. Walton guesses his client might go “40 to 60.”
“There’s probably some possibility he goes undrafted,” Walton said. “But he’ll sign an NBA contract no matter what, whether he’s drafted or not.”
Maten, who is from Pontiac, Mich., finished his career with his name all over the Georgia record book. He left the program as No. 2 in points (1,886), No. 4 in rebounds (889), No. 3 in blocks (198), No. 4 in free throws made (518), No. 4 in free throws attempted (686), No. 5 in field goals attempted (1345), No. 6 in field goals made (655), No. 13 in free throw percentage (.755) and No. 15 in field goal percentage (.483).
If he is drafted, Maten will become only the fourth Georgia player since 2011 to be selected. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie were each second-round picks in 2011, and Caldwell-Pope was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Detroit Pistons. KCP, now with the Lakers, is the only former Bulldogs player in the NBA.
That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of Bulldogs playing pro ball. Leslie is playing in Paris, and J.J. Frazier played in France and Italy last season. Charles Mann is balling in Luxembourg, Gerald Robinson is in Monaco and Thompkins just won the European championship with Real Madrid in Spain.
But most folks are betting that Maten will be able to make a living in the NBA, and maybe for a while.
“He’s a very skilled offensive player, one of the most polished post scorers, or mid-post scorers, out there,” Walton said. “His size isn’t traditional, but the way the NBA is going where you’re playing a little bit of position-less basketball, he has a 7-1 wingspan and is strong enough to play inside and shoots the ball well from anywhere on the floor. A lot of teams like him.”
Worth tuning into the draft, for sure.
Thanks for the query, John. Be sure to send another one our way soon.
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