Former Eastern Kentucky University basketball player Nick Mayo is not adverse to change.

As a college freshman, the Oakland, Maine native packed up and moved hundreds of miles south to play Division I basketball.

In just a couple of weeks, Mayo will once again pack his bags and take on the challenge of adapting to a new home.

After playing well with the Miami Heat's NBA Summer League squad, the former EKU star will now take his talent to Japan.

Mayo recently signed to play professional basketball with the Chiba Jets, who are based in Funabashi, a city of approximately 623,000 residents on the east coast of Honshu, Japan's largest island.

The Jets are one of 18 teams to play in the B. League, Japan basketball's highest league. Chiba was league runner-up last season and Mayo already has his sights on helping his new team grab a championship this season.

"I'm looking forward to that challenge," Mayo said. "I'm a little nervous, yeah, that comes with it -- starting something new. It will be unique. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to adapt to another culture and experience new things. It will be my first time in Japan."

Venturing out of his comfort zone is nothing new to Mayo, who said he has always tried to make the most of his opportunities and embrace what comes his way.

"I'm taking it day-by-day and trying to enjoy it and have fun," Mayo explained. "I've always tried to have that mindset… I'm blessed and grateful for (this opportunity). I get to play the game that I love and get paid. It's been a blessing."

While Mayo said he will have to learn some Japanese in order to fully-experience his new home -- he's an old hat at learning new skills.

It's something he's honed for years.

Long before he was playing for the Miami Heat in the NBA summer league, Mayo had to decide whether he wanted to even play the game or not.

Late in his senior year of high school to focus on basketball instead of his first-love of baseball.

The teenager was a dual-position player on the diamond at Messalonskee High School, skilled at both first base and pitching -- with an ability to launch a ball in the lower 90s from the rubber.

Instead, Mayo made the leap and decided to hone his talent on the court on a traveling AAU basketball team where he caught the notice of then EKU assistant coach and current Madison Southern basketball head coach Austin Newton.

"He was a good baseball player," Newton said of Mayo on Tuesday when the former EKU star stooped by a Madison Southern skills camp to speak with local athletes. "However, it was fate that he decided to play travel ball which is where I saw him and recruited him to EKU."

Mayo arrived at EKU a true freshman, where he was plunged into the quicker pace of Division I basketball and players that were bigger, older and more experienced.

That challenge did not stop the determined young man who worked hard to earn a spot in the starting lineup for all 31 games that year.

However, just like high school, his senior year of college brought change.

A.W. Hamilton was chosen to replace Dan McHale in 2018 as Mayo was on pace to become the school's all-time leading scorer.

He had a decision to make -- stay and see what opportunities would surface at EKU or try his hand at the draft or another university.

Tasked by his new coach to get stronger and take more shots, Mayo didn't flinch and rose to the challenge --bulking up to 250 pounds to account for the increased workload.

Mayo left Eastern Kentucky as the program's all-time leading scorer, with 2,316 career points. He averaged 23.7 points per game for the Colonels last season, ranking him in the top 10 in NCAA Division I scoring. He was also named First-Team All-Ohio Valley Conference in each of his four seasons at Eastern Kentucky.

Even while notching all those accomplishments, Mayo tried to stay in the moment and enjoy the day-to-day journey.

"I really wasn't sure what was going to happen (when I came to EKU). I wasn't even sure I was even going to play my freshman year. I just put in a lot of work and whatever come with that, comes. I just want to keep leading my team and focus on getting us more wins," Mayo said after breaking the scoring record last December in the Colonels' loss to Xavier.

After graduating last spring, Mayo has had some time to reflect and maintains that his four years at EKU has made a significant impact on him.

"My four years at Eastern has helped make me who I am. It taught me a lot. When I first moved here, I had to mature and deal with adversity and being away from home. (My time at EKU) helped shaped me into a player and a person," Mayo said.

The support of EKU and the Richmond community has been very impactful for Mayo as well as support from Hamilton, who knew his star player would have a bright future after his time with the Colonels.

The head coach even addressed his support for Mayo in his introduction speech.

"I say that, and Nick has had an incredible career ... but I think he can be even better. And I really mean this when I say it. I think one day we're going to put 'NBA' beside his name. He's that talented," Hamilton said.

In April, Mayo took part in the Portsmouth Invitational, a showcase tournament in Portsmouth, Virginia. Scouts from all 30 NBA teams as well as international clubs, scouted the tournament, where Mayo averaged 14.3 points per game in three games. He shot 53.6 percent from the floor, including 6-for-8 from 3-point range.

Between the Portsmouth Invitational and the NBA draft, Mayo worked out for 10 NBA teams.

After failing to be drafted, Mayo said he was called by his agent who told him the Miami Heat wanted the forward to play in the summer league.

Playing for the Miami Heat's summer league team recently, Mayo averaged 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game in four games in the Las Vegas league Mayo scored 20 points in a game against China's national team.

In three games in the Sacramento league, Mayo averaged 4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.

The former EKU players contributions didn't go unnoticed.

"He's a natural scorer, scored a lot of points in college," Eric Glass, the Heat's Summer League coach, said of Mayo, according to the Miami Herald. "His reliability on defense has been something impressive. He's done a solid job there. I've been impressed."

Mayo said the experience he gained this summer has been phenomenal.

"It was a lot of fun. It was a cool experience to be a part of the Miami Heat team and the organization. To be surrounded by it --the whole experience. I'm grateful to have been able to play with some great competition and great athletes," Mayo said.

Now, Mayo said he's ready for the next phase as he plans to approach it in his same steadfast style that has shown great results in the past.

"I think it's all kind of unfolded in front of me. There is no telling what is going to happen. You have to work hard and live in the moment. I couldn't have told you I was signing with a team in Japan when I was playing in the NBA summer league. I just take it one day at a time… To me, so far its been good," Mayo said.

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