Can you play with snakes and brush off getting hit by a car like it’s no big deal? Yante Maten is the Toughest Georgia Bulldog.
As talented as Yante Maten may be on the basketball floor, he is best known for his academic interests (Herpetology – the study of amphibians and reptiles) and for being hit by a car at a crosswalk. It is nice to be able to talk about academic interests of student-athletes as they are often viewed as obstacles to eligibility and playing time. Yante Maten chose to attend Georgia over Michigan State because of the Herpetology program at UGA. The University of Georgia also has a Herpetological Society hosted by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Hopefully, Bulldog Nation will get to find out more about Yante’s love for reptiles in the future and will refrain from nicknaming him “The Snake”, as it is already taken.
Yante Maten was a late bloomer that caught fire (not literally) in his Senior year of High School. The 6’8″ 240 pound Power Forward from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan was notably pursued by Michigan State, Indiana, Colorado, Utah and Virginia Tech. Maten is a do-it-all Power Forward, not a stretch 4 due to his inability to knock down three point shots. Maten stood out for his shot blocking, ability to take the 10-15 footer with confidence and stepping up in a physical fashion when needed.
Maten was the first post player off the bench last season as he was the understudy to Marcus Thornton. He was able to be an important contributor without the expectations. By not being a project player as far as skills were concerned, he was able to make an impact as a Freshman. This opens up the door to expectations NEXT SEASON. Maten will be THE MAN, it is his frontcourt and he will be expected to perform as such in his Sophomore season. Many believe that Maten is poised for major individual honors during his time at Georgia and they might be right.
Lots of statistics thrown out here, but here are a few key takeaways from Maten’s Freshman campaign:
- Maten saw 18.2 minutes and did not get a full offseason like an incumbent player would.
- Maten has a good Defensive Rating and he even was 6th in the SEC in blocks per game at 1.4.
- Maten had the 3rd Best Defensive Rating on Georgia’s 2014-15 squad, 1st was Marcus Thornton and 2nd was Osahen Iduwe who played minimal minutes.
- Maten had similar figures to Marcus Thornton defensively as a freshman, but is already well ahead on offense. Thornton did not come into his own until the calendar turned to 2014.
- Maten improved in conference play on the offensive end, but was not as effective defensively. This may be a product of facing some lower level competition in non-conference play, recovering from the concussion and depth issues affecting how Georgia played on both ends of the floor.
- Maten’s Win Share is 1.5, which means that from his efforts, he contributed 1.5 wins last season. J.J. Frazier and Marcus Thornton were tied at 3.8 last season.
- As a rebounder, Maten contributed the most on the offensive boards leading to second chance opportunities.
- Based on the Defensive +/- figures, Yante Maten was the best defender on the team.
If one were to compare Maten to Thornton, it would show that Maten has performed far superior than Thornton’s illness and injury ravaged first three seasons. Maten has an opportunity to build on this past season and work with Jonas Hayes for a full offseason, it did wonders for Marcus Thornton and it certainly could transform Yante Maten into a star. Also, what does it say about Yante Maten that his best performances came against Kentucky this past season?
What Yante Maten Needs to Do This Offseason:
- Put on more muscle weight: Maten was pushed around at times in SEC play on the defensive end. If Maten is going to be more competitive in the blocks for rebounds and defend the quality posts that he will be matched up against, he needs to force his will.
- Add more post moves: Notice how many different ways Marcus Thornton was able to attack the rim whether it be from the high post or low post, he had moves and countermoves in 1-on-1 situations. These are the things that Jonas Hayes will be imparting upon Yante Maten.
- Free Throw Shooting: Can we get this above 70% somehow? Maten would take one or two trips to the line per game, but he would miss the second free throw.
- Defensive Discipline: Maten cannot get himself into foul trouble next season. However, he fouled out of two games and had six games where he racked up four fouls.
- Facing the Bruiser Posts: Maten struggled against Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. All these teams featured a bruiser post or two. Jonas Hayes in his time at Georgia was an undersized post that relied on power and leverage to make plays in the low block. Hayes has plenty of tricks for Maten to learn here.
Expectations for Yante Maten
Yante Maten should have a breakthrough season that has nothing to do with windshields. Maten will experience the sort of progress that Marcus Thornton enjoyed from his third season at Georgia to his fourth, but in a more pronounced fashion as Yante Maten will be healthier and have a good supporting cast around him. If Maten can get help in the post, it will take a lot of the pressure off him. Maten should enjoy more frequent trips to the Free Throw line should Charles Mann, Will Jackson and Juwan Parker attack the hoop with regularity with the intention of getting fouled. The Free Throw parade is a good thing for Maten because it will soften his opponent in the post in the form of facing a bench player or a player with foul trouble.
Maten will be a double digit scorer in the post and will be a major rebounder down low. It’s tough not to be bullish on Maten’s prospects next season.
Statistics to expect: 13 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, 2.2 blocks per game.