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HUSKER MEN’S HOOPS

Husker hoops forward Lat Mayen ends college career, turns pro in native Australia

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Nebraska vs. Auburn, 12.11

Auburn forward Jabari Smith (right) defends against Nebraska forward Lat Mayen during the first half on Dec. 11 in Atlanta.

What was suspected for weeks became official last weekend.

Nebraska forward Lat Mayen, who spent two years in Lincoln and started 58 of the 59 games he played for the Huskers, will not return to NU for his COVID-19 season, instead opting for a professional basketball career.

Mayen played his first pro game Sunday in his home country of Australia, scoring 20 points in 25 minutes for the Cairns Marlins of the NBL1 league.

The NBL1 is a second division, of sorts, for Australia's top pro league, the NBL. Former Husker Jack McVeigh played multiple seasons in the NBL1 while also playing in the NBL for the Adelaide 36ers and the Tasmania JackJumpers.

The Cairns Marlins are associated with the NBL's Cairns Taipans.

"Everyone in our program appreciates the contributions (Lat) has made to the Husker basketball program over the last two seasons and the work he put into the gym every day," NU coach Fred Hoiberg said in a news release. "Lat has been a pleasure to coach and (I) look forward to him embarking on a pro career."

The writing on the wall regarding Mayen’s return became clearer when Nebraska received a commitment from Alabama forward Juwan Gary on April 21.

The addition of Gary put Nebraska at 14 scholarship players, one over the NCAA limit of 13 — with SMU guard Emmanuel Bandoumel moving that number to 15 — with Mayen and guard Trey McGowens yet to make their decisions on whether or not to return to NU.

Mayen's decision drops that number back to 14, with McGowens still to announce a decision.

Mayen famously made 86 of 100 three-pointers in a summer drill shortly after arriving on campus in 2020, raising hopes that he could be the type of sharpshooting big man Hoiberg has traditionally liked to have in his offense.

But in two years with the Huskers, Mayen connected on 77 three-pointers while shooting just 33% from beyond the arc.

He battled a back injury early in the 2021-22 season, and was just 11-for-51 (21.5%) from three-point range over the first half of the year before shooting 39% from long range in the second half of the season.

The Adelaide, Australia, native showed brief flashes of what Nebraska was hoping to get when it signed him, averaging 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over the final four games of the 2020-21 season.

Early that year, Mayen was forced to play out of position at center as Nebraska was without Derrick Walker and Eduardo Andre for the first six games of the year.

Mayen led NU with 48 three-pointers that season, including a career-high five in a 25-point performance against Rutgers late in the season.

But the 6-foot-9 forward scored in double figures just three more times over his final 35 games, including two double-digit performances last season.

In 2021-22, Mayen saw his scoring and rebounding averages dip to 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds. He had a season high of 13 points against Penn State late in the year, and finished the season shooting 39% from the field and 30% from three-point range.

Mayen spent one season at the junior college level, playing at Chipola College in Florida, before coming to Nebraska.

Prior to Chipola, the former second-ranked player in Australia in the 2017 recruiting class spent two seasons at TCU, redshirting as a freshman in 2017-18, and playing in 17 games the following season before a knee injury ended his year.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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