Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FSU's Xavier Rathan-Mayes has adapted well in move to point guard

Xavier Rathan-Mayes is the son of an ex-FSU star.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes is the son of an ex-FSU star.

ORLANDO — His out-of-body experience lasted four minutes, 38 seconds. During that fleeting, finite stretch, FSU shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes was a PlayStation dervish. Kid couldn't miss.

"One of the greatest shooting performances I have ever seen," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

The 'Noles fell 81-77 to the 'Canes on that February night two winters ago, but not before Rathan-Mayes had staged arguably the greatest scoring exhibition in FSU lore. Thirty of his 35 points came in the last 4:38. His surge began with a 3-pointer and ended with a four-pointer, when he was fouled while banking in a trey.

In between, he scored 26 in a row at one point. "I've never seen that before in my college coaching career," Larranaga said.

Then, before you can say John Stockton, the dynamo was asked to become a distributor. By the 2015-16 season, 'Noles coach Leonard Hamilton had brought two other elite scorers, Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, aboard.

Suddenly, this garnet-and-gold legacy (son of FSU 1,000-point scorer Tharon Mayes) was being asked to facilitate offense instead of create it.

"We needed him to be a point guard," 'Noles coach Leonard Hamilton said.

Initially, there was some resistance, followed by rough patches. In the last two games of a five-game February skid, Rathan-Mayes totaled two assists and six turnovers. After the season, he even briefly entered the NBA draft before deciding to remain in school.

"It's been a process for me," he said.

The process has segued to a payoff. Rathan-Mayes ended the regular season second in the ACC — and 23rd nationally — in assist-turnover ratio (plus-2.76), and FSU ended a five-year NCAA Tournament drought.

"(The transition) is not as easy as one would think," said Hamilton, whose third-seeded team (25-8) meets Florida Gulf Coast (26-7) tonight at the Amway Center. "And I think he's fought through it and I think he's in a pretty good spot."

Easing the adjustment has been the surrounding cast.

FSU possesses one of the most vertically daunting lineups in this tournament with ultra-talented 6-foot-10 freshman Jonathan Isaac (11.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and 7-1 Nigerian Michael Ojo (4.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg). Bacon, a 6-7 former Parade All-American averaging 16.9 points, elicits NBA buzz on most nights.

But at its core is Rathan-Mayes, a Canadian-born junior whose 1,210 career points put him 50 behind his father.

"Rathan-Mayes has done a great job of facilitating those things," Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley said.

At its essence, efficient has supplanted prolific. Though still capable of filling it up on a given night (he had 23 against Wake Forest in December), Rathan-Mayes recognizes the talent around him and maximizes it.

He ended the regular season with 4.9 assists. In 11 of 20 conference games including the ACC tournament, he committed one or zero turnovers.

No more PlayStation moments, but a lot of play-smart ones.

"I enjoy it a lot. I've got three pros on both sides of me, so it makes my job a lot easier," Rathan-Mayes said.

"It's been a process for me, learning the point guard position, coming from high school and playing the (two-guard) all my life. But I think I've gotten the hang of it now, and I love being in the position that I am, being one of the leaders on the team."

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

Tonight

West Region opener, No. 3 FSU (25-8) vs. No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast (26-7), 9:20, Amway Center, Orlando TV: TNT

FSU's Xavier Rathan-Mayes has adapted well in move to point guard 03/15/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 9:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 9

    Footballpreps

    Tampa Bay Tech Titans Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws a pass during the first half during the first half at Durant High School in Plant City on Friday, October 20, 2017.
  2. Road to Atlanta: Tell us how you really feel, Jimbo

    College

    Topped out

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 21:  Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide tackles Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 775042495
  3. Journal: USF gets support on the road

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — Perhaps it was the chance to witness the first USF-Tulane game ever, or an opportunity to frolic in the French Quarter for a weekend. Or both.

    USF running back D'Ernest Johnson (2) stiff-arms Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson (17) on a run during the second half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH111
  4. Joey Knight's takeaways from USF-Tulane

    College

    1. Saturday's triumph will do little to fortify USF's strength of schedule, but its strength-of-character quotient might have increased. On the road facing an eclectic offense, the Bulls built a huge lead, then made critical plays in the waning moments after some defensive lapses. In short, they survived. Isn't …

    South Florida defensive end Greg Reaves (41) reacts after a defensive stop against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH107
  5. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103