BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota State Men returned nearly every player from last year’s team. But it’s one of the newest names on the roster that’s quickly making a name for himself as freshman Zeke Mayo has exploded onto the scene for the Jackrabbits and given Eric Henderson and company another weapon on the court.
Zeke Mayo knew a little about SDSU from their previous NCAA Tournament trips, but it wasn’t until his junior year of high school when he came on a visit that he saw what the program could offer.
“Really enjoyed campus, my family loved it out here. We came to a game, and saw how well the community engages in their sports,” Zeke Mayo said.
The Lawrence, Kansas native would commit to the Jacks a year later, but with basically everyone back from last season, if Mayo wanted to see the court, he’d have to earn it.
“I just told him that you need to come in here and work your tail off. You’re not going to be gifted anything, but if you work your tail enough I guarantee opportunities will come your way,” SDSU Head Coach Eric Henderson said.
“He wasn’t playing like a ton at the start of the year, but kind of stayed the course, and did everything the right way. Had a good attitude in practice and then when he was finally getting his chances, he made the most of it,” Sophomore Baylor Scheierman said.
Mayo has appeared in every game this year, and as the season has progressed so has his playing time, which has resulted him starting the last 7 games.
“Knowing that coach has that trust in me and giving me those opportunities, I think it’s my job to really take advantage of those and go out here and prove night in and night out that I deserve those minutes. Just keep playing how I’m playing and not try to do too much,” Mayo said.
While Mayo may not have known much about SDSU prior to that visit two years ago, it’s been a perfect match so far.
“Just really proud of how he’s ingrained himself on a very veteran team. It’s not easy for a new guy and a young guy to find a niche and a role, and he’s done that beautifully,” Henderson said.
“I love it so far. I’m loving the community, I love campus. Everybody is, feels like a really big culture out here, really diverse, this is home for me,” Zeke Mayo said.
Mayo averages 10 points per game, which ranks 4th on the team and has played the 3rd most minutes among all players. He and the Jackrabbits are back in action Thursday night at home against North Dakota. Tipoff is set for 7:00.