Good floor spacing is essential for most college basketball teams, especially those with skilled three-point shooters. The American University men’s basketball team is no different, and the Eagles have achieved productive floor spacing and efficient thr3ee-point shooting from 6’7” freshman forward Matt Mayock.
During his high school career, Mayock gained a reputation as a 3-point specialist, consistently hitting shots over defenders with his long frame. The Berwyn, Pennsylvania native made his mark at the Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Westtown boasts a basketball program that has developed NBA talents like Mo Bamba of the Philadelphia 76ers and Dereck Lively II of the Dallas Mavericks, a former teammate of Mayock’s.
As a junior, Mayock won the 2022 Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association State Championship alongside Lively. After contributing to Westtown’s state championship win as a junior, Mayock continued to show improvement, earning a spot on the Friendship Schools League First Team as a senior in 2023. Mayock feels that his time at Westtown prepared him for Division I basketball.
“It was huge for me because we played against really good competition. We were playing a national schedule against some of the best teams in the country,” Mayock said. “And then every day in practice, just being surrounded by high-level guys, every practice felt like a game.”
In high school, Mayock not only showcased his shooting abilities in the competitive Friendship School League but also in the Pennsylvania Amateur Athletic Union basketball scene. Mayock initially sharpened his shooting skills with the East Coast Power Basketball program in Chester County, Pennsylvania, but later took his talents to the Under Armour-sponsored Philly Pride basketball club.
On the Under Armour circuit, Mayock gained exposure and got looks from college coaches through tournaments and showcases. Even though Mayock performed well in high-level AAU games, American’s basketball program recruited him based on his shooting performances for Westtown, in a summer high school basketball tournament.
Former American University head coach Mike Brennan, who parted ways with AU’s basketball program in March 2023, recruited Mayock. Mayock’s close communication with his future teammates and the AU administrators played a part in his decision to stay committed to AU.
“I think a lot of it was just the guys on the team and the administration,” Mayock said. “The administration stayed in touch with me throughout the process of hiring a new coach. So, it just made me feel like I was wanted here and then the guys on the team that were returning also stayed in touch and said that they still wanted me to come.”
Mayock also had offers from the University at Albany and Princeton University. Mayock said that the fact that Princeton signed another recruit at his position was another reason he chose AU.
In his first season at AU, Mayock has averaged roughly seven points and two rebounds per game as the starting small forward. The speed of the game and the athleticism of players are two things that the forward has had to get used to at the Division I level. Mayock has embraced his role as a starter and the adjustments that he has had to make.
“I wouldn't say I was expecting to start and play as much as I am, but I tried to take it in stride,” Mayock said. “And I know all the hard work I've put in, so I’m just trying to capitalize and show off what I can do.”
So far in his freshman campaign, Mayock has shot 44 percent from 3 and has had five double-digit scoring nights. Recently, Mayock had a 20-point scoring outburst in AU's 71-63 win against Bucknell, shooting 4-5 from behind the arc. This career-high performance earned him Patriot League Rookie of the Week. Mayock appreciated the way the team put him in a position to score during the game.
“Once you see a couple of shots go down as a shooter, then you kind of start to find a rhythm. And then my coaches did a great job of drawing up plays and getting me the ball and spots where I could do something with it,” Mayock said. “And then same thing with my teammates, just hitting me in the right spots, and encouraging me to keep playing like I was.”
Mayock is not just focused on shooting the ball but also helping the team in any way he can. The small forward has embraced the team’s emphasis on defense, something that he feels the team should especially focus on in the Patriot League tournament.
“I think the biggest thing for us is defense, just making sure that we're locked in on every play. We can't take any off,” Mayock said. “And when we do that, we'll be able to translate our defense and offense by getting out in transition, which we're really good at.”
On the offensive end, Mayock can score outside of catch-and-shoot situations, often creating shots for himself. Men’s basketball assistant coach Nate Bollinger appreciates Mayock’s offensive versatility.
“The biggest thing we wanted to utilize was him being able to stretch the floor and make shots for us,” Bollinger said. “And as we've kind of put him in those situations and as people started closing out to him, we've kind of seen that he can make plays off the bounce. He's actually pretty good at it.”
Mayock said that people have compared his game to former NBA sharpshooters like Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick, but he feels that he plays more like former NBA player Peja Stojaković, a skilled three-point shooter who could also handle the ball. Despite his shooting abilities, Mayock is not hard set on playing professional basketball after getting a degree from AU’s Kogod School of Business.
“My plan right now is once I'm done with college basketball to just go into the normal world, but you never know what opportunities will present themselves,” Mayock said. “So, if there's a basketball opportunity that I really like, I'll try and go for that, but for now, I'm just thinking, I’ll go be a normal person.”
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis and Liah Argiropoulos.