Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Canadian guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes looking to impress Knicks in training camp
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Xavier Rathan-Mayes was introduced to the business of NBA basketball before he ever set foot in Knicks training camp.
The Canadian and former Florida State star was working out with Carmelo Anthony and his fellow Knicks teammates on Sept. 22 at the Rumble gym in New York.
At that point, Anthony was acting as a mentor to Rathan-Mayes and the other young Knicks, and Rathan-Mayes figured he would enjoy that relationship all season.
“And then the next day he was traded,” Rathan-Mayes said this week of the trade that sent Anthony to Oklahoma City in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick in 2018.
“While he was here he was good to me. He looked out for me when he needed to and so I wish him the best wherever he is.”
The Knicks will open the regular season Oct. 19 against Anthony and the Thunder in Oklahoma City, but it remains unclear if Rathan-Mayes will be on the team then.
Rathan-Mayes, 23, is in Knicks camp on a partially guaranteed contract.
“I love it, I think it’s a great fit,” he said. “We got guys like J-Jack [Jarrett Jack], Tim [Hardaway Jr.], have been great for me, just kind of learning from them, trying to do what I can and make my presence felt on the defensive end and doing everything I can from there.”
The 6-foot-4 Rathan-Mayes averaged 12.4 points and 4.5 assists in three seasons at Florida State. He was one of three rookie free agents the Knicks signed last month, along with Jamel Artis out of Pittsburgh and Nigel Hayes from Wisconsin. All are on partial guarantees for one year.
Rathan-Mayes played AAU ball alongside Andrew Wiggins, the former No. 1 pick out of Kansas now with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also counts Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, a fellow Canadian, as a mentor.
‘Yeah, Andrew’s one of my best friends in the world,” he said. “Tristan’s like a big brother to me, constantly talking to him and I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps. They’re doing such great things. Tristan’s in year 6 or 7, he’s been at it for a while so just learning on their knowledge as well as the vets that I got here is definitely going to help me.”
Ratha-Mayes played with the Canadian Senior National Team last month in the FIBA AmeriCup 2017. The Canucks finished a disappointing 1-2 but he averaged 14.7 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds.
“Yeah, it was great playing against international competition on a very high level,” he said. “And being able to get into game shape right away so when I came into camp I felt great. My body feels great.”
Said Canadian National Team coach Roy Rana: “He’s obviously a tremendously talented offensive player who’s managed to develop into a very, very good all-around point guard. He obviously had great impact at Florida State and has really rounded into a solid point guard who can score and create for others and really defend. They’re getting a well-rounded young player who’s continuing to develop.”
Rathan-Mayes is a natural scoring guard, but has also played some point so far in camp.
“Whatever I gotta do,” he said. “They look at me as a high-defensive guy, a guy that can stop people. And I’m a guy that can get us in and out of our sets as well as score when I need to so coach [Jeff Hornacek] has been on me to be a little bit more aggressive scoring the basketball as opposed to how I was in college so I just gotta continue to do what I’m doing as well as set the tone defensively.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.