Lawrence native, South Dakota State transfer Mayo commits to KU

photo by: AP Photo/John Peterson

South Dakota State's Zeke Mayo celebrates after scoring during the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

Updated 10:12 p.m. Tuesday:

Zeke Mayo is coming home.

The former Lawrence High basketball standout and 2023-24 Summit League player of the year announced Tuesday evening that he is transferring to Kansas.

Mayo picked his hometown Jayhawks over Creighton, Oklahoma and Texas; On3 had reported he planned to visit Oklahoma next week. Instead, he joins KU from South Dakota State, where he spent three years. As a junior with the Jackrabbits this past season, the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 18.8 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 47% from the floor and 39% from beyond the arc.

He will immediately provide much-needed offensive firepower for KU and head coach Bill Self as the Jayhawks look to shore up their scoring following the departure of Kevin McCullar Jr. and ultimately bounce back as a team next season.

“Honestly, I’m just ready to play whatever role Coach Self wants me to play, in order to win,” he told Shay Wildeboor of “I expect to come in here and impact the game in whatever way that may be.”

Mayo is the Jayhawks’ second transfer commitment after Riley Kugel, the incoming junior guard from Florida who committed to KU on Sunday. Kugel also had a Kansas connection, as a former Overland Park resident.

While with Lawrence High, Mayo became the first Chesty Lion ever to receive the male DiRenna Award for the Kansas City area’s best high school basketball player. He was also a two-time Journal-World All-Area player of the year before embarking on his career at SDSU.

Mayo made the decision after a visit to KU.

“Me and Coach Self, we were having a little meeting and towards the end of the meeting he kind of put things into perspective, just of me being a local hometown kid and the support system (I) would have around me,” he told the Journal-World later Tuesday night.

With the Jackrabbits he twice made the NCAA Tournament and put up similarly strong all-conference-caliber numbers during his sophomore and junior seasons.

In three games against Big 12 Conference competition during his junior year, including SDSU’s NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa State, he averaged 14 points, 4.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds. The best scoring performances of his career, 41 points as a sophomore and 35 as a junior, both came against North Dakota State.

Though plenty of time remains, KU has not had any players enter the transfer portal yet, meaning that it is currently set to use 12 scholarships next season.

“We obviously are super excited to just be a part of a team like this, who has so much experience and depth and growth that there is still to make,” Mayo said. “This team is very gritty, they’re talented inside and out, I’m just excited to get to play alongside a fantastic point guard in Dajuan (Harris) and also a center who can score from inside and out.”

Mayo had said when he entered the portal that he planned to consider the NBA Draft process as well. He told the Journal-World he’s not sure if he’ll continue to test those waters going forward, as he acknowledged he isn’t a projected high draft pick currently.

“It’s definitely something to sit down and talk about with my family still, and coach Self himself,” he said.

Maybe no one will be happier at the prospect of having Mayo back in Lawrence than KU running back and fellow former Chesty Lion Devin Neal, who was prominently featured in two of the photos Mayo shared with his commitment, one recent and one from their childhood, and himself posted that it would be a “legendary reunion.”

Ultimately, Mayo said he’s most excited about the chance to play in front of family and friends and “the love and the support that the fans show for Kansas basketball and honestly Kansas athletics as a whole.”

“I’m just beyond blessed to be in this situation, I’m super excited to get to showcase myself in front of tens of thousands of people, and I can’t wait to wear that name across the chest,” Mayo said.


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