TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In Xavier Rathan-Mayes’ mind, there’s nothing to lose. New legislation allows college basketball players to enter their name in the NBA draft, and, provided they don’t sign with an agent, return to school if they change their minds. So, Rathan-Mayes figured, why not? He announced Tuesday that he will enter the draft, but will still retain his status as a student-athlete and leave open the option to play his junior season at FSU.
“If you don’t like where you’re at, you can always come back to school,” Rathan-Mayes said. “And coming back to Florida State is not a bad option at all. To be able to play in the ACC against the top talent in the country on a day in, day out basis is something special.
“That’s an option that’s going to be very valuable to me in the future.”
Rathan-Mayes is the third Seminole to declare for the draft since the season ended last month. Freshman guard Malik Beasley declared and signed with an agent, ending his college career after one season.
A few days later, fellow freshman Dwayne Bacon announced he would enter the draft but not sign with an agent. But soon after, Bacon had a change of heart and said he would skip the draft process entirely and focus only on his sophomore season at FSU.
Rathan-Mayes, FSU’s leading scorer in 2014-15, intends to attend NBA scouting combines and gather information before making a final decision.
“I think it’s the right decision for me and my family just after assessing the process and speaking to Coach ‘Ham’ (Leonard Hamilton) and Coach (Stan) Jones,” Rathan-Mayes said. “I’m just sitting back and seeing where I was after this year and the year before that, just kind of going out there and testing the waters, just to get some feedback on where I am.”
Rathan-Mayes said he hopes to show NBA scouts that he can run a team from the point guard position, but also score when necessary.
He’s done both those things often during his two seasons at FSU. Rathan-Mayes’ 146 assists last year were by far the most on the team, and he’s also averaged 13.4 points per game over the last two seasons.
“I think that’s something I’m going to be able to display and something I’m continuing to work on,” he said.
Rathan-Mayes delivered the news to FSU’s coaching staff on Tuesday, and said that he has Hamilton’s full support.
“All he wants to do is see me succeed,” Rathan-Mayes said. “I love him to death and he said he’s going to do everything possible and in his power to be able to help me.”
The NBA combine begins in mid-May, and prospects have until May 25 to decide whether to return to school.
The NBA draft starts on June 23.
Until then, Rathan-Mayes said he plans to “work my butt off in the gym” and prepare to make a strong showing.
And if it doesn’t work out, Rathan-Mayes is fine with that too. After all, there’s nothing to lose.
“I think (the new rule) is very valuable,” Rathan-Mayes said. “I think it gives a student-athlete the opportunity to test the waters and see where he really is in the process without losing his eligibility to come back to college. I think that’s great because, in the past, kids would go kind of blindly.
“After that process is done, I’ll sit down with my family and sit down with Coach ‘Ham’ and the coaching staff and reassess again.”