Xavier Rathan-Mayes resembles young Steve Nash
Canadian guard at Florida State has perfect attitude, says former coach
On Wednesday morning when Xavier Rathan-Mayes woke up, he tweeted out: “Another day, another opportunity. Be special!”
I’m not sure if Rathan-Mayes had any sense of how special he would be that day, but by the time he went to bed that night all of North America would find out.
Rathan-Mayes plays for Florida State University. He’s a freshman point guard from Scarborough, Ont. By now, this isn’t news to anyone who follows basketball, but last night he scored an incredible 30 points in 4:30 in a game against the University of Miami.
For those who know Rathan-Mayes his effort last night was tremendous, but not surprising.
I was on the coaching staff of the CIA Bounce AAU basketball team that Rathan-Mayes played for when he was still in high school. I met him when he was 15 years-old and knew within five minutes of talking to him that he was going to do great things on the basketball court.
Rathan-Mayes professed to me that his goal was to play in the NBA, and that he was willing to do whatever he had to do achieve his goal. I had been coaching for 20 years at that point and had only heard one other player speak with such conviction and that was Steve Nash.
At the time, Nash was 17 years-old and playing for Canada’s National Junior Men’s Basketball Team. He too told me he was going to the NBA. I thought he was crazy.
What I heard in Nash’s voice, I also heard in Rathan-Mayes’ voice – an unflinching confidence. And like Nash, Rathan-Mayes would show me that he had the work ethic and desire to become a great basketball player.
For the three years he played on our team, Rathan-Mayes never missed a practice, he worked extremely hard at all times and I always had to kick him out of the gym at the end of practice so I could go home. During games, he listened intently when the coaches spoke and often sacrificed parts of his game (especially his ability to score) for the good of the team.
Rathan-Mayes worked just as hard off the court. He would train, lift weights and consume as much basketball as he could in an effort to improve his basketball IQ. It was customary for him to work out three hours a day and put up 400 to 500 shots. By the time he stepped on the court for his first game at Florida State earlier this season, he was in great shape, a dead-eye shooter and his basketball IQ was off the charts.
So for those who knew him then (and now), Rathan-Mayes' unbelievable 30 points in 4:30 minutes is just a validation of his work ethic and attitude.
He’s the poster child for hard work pays off. He’s also the product of a very supportive family (his mother Marilyn has made numerous sacrifices so he could play basketball) and a great circle of friends — including Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis — who constantly pushed him to be his best.
Rathan-Mayes worked very hard to be in a position to have the special night he had against Miami. As a friend said to me, the only thing that would have made Rathan-Mayes' accomplishment more special was if his team won the game.