The views of the author are not necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.
Yante Maten believes in the power of prayer.
He says now that prayer is what landed him at the University of Georgia where he blossomed into a star player for the Bulldogs.
Maten, now awaiting Thursday’s NBA draft, said God led him to Georgia and added that it helped that the Bulldogs wanted him from the beginning.
I have no problem agreeing with him. That’s because I would think it was only an act of God that could keep him from signing with Michigan State or Indiana.
Those schools love their basketball, and he played prep hoops in the heart of Big Ten country as a star at Bloomfield Hills (Mich.), which he led to the Class A state championship game as a senior.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was in the stands for the state semifinal when Maten scored 25 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Then-Indiana coach Tom Crean, who is now at Georgia, was also at that game, and so was then-Georgia coach Mark Fox who was dismissed after this past season.
About two weeks later, the Pontiac, Mich., product chose the Bulldogs over both the Spartans and the Hoosiers.
I mean, only God could make that happen, right?
Well, now four years later, Bulldog Nation is certainly happy that the Man Upstairs steered Maten to Athens.
Maten put together one of the best careers of anyone to ever wear a Georgia basketball uniform. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward capped his stellar career by winning the SEC Player of the Year award this past season and also achieving honorable-mention All-American honors.
This past season, Maten led the SEC in scoring (19.3 points per game) and double-doubles (14) while ranking third in rebounding (8.6 average).
He finished his Georgia career in the top 10 all-time in seven different categories including second in points scored (1,886), third in blocks (198) and fourth in rebounds (889).
Now, he awaits an NBA career. Maten will definitely be in the league next season. It’s just a matter of whether he is drafted by a team tomorrow night or signs with someone as a free agent in the coming days.
Me, I find it surprising that there’s really any question regarding his position in the draft.
He isn’t a lottery pick or even a first-rounder. But if he slips beyond round two – where most projections have him going – then all the teams who passed on him might want to think about a shake-up in their scouting departments.
Maten is a complete player. He can score, defend and rebound. He can handle the ball, play inside and also outside.
And while he tested out well at the NBA combine – did I mention he has a 7-1 wing span – the things that can’t be measured are his heart, desire and humility.
Anyone who has been around Maten – supposedly he has worked out individually for 14 different teams including the Hawks and his home-state Pistons – should have noticed those type things, too.
I would think his overall skill-set would be a huge drawing power considering that sometimes positions mean nothing into today’s wide-open NBA game, anyway.
Simply put, Maten has a lot of upside, in my humble opinion.
And just for the record, Georgia fans know him on a first-name basis. They just call him Yante.
That, right there, should tell you something, too.