Yante Maten had a strong freshman season playing for Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs in 2014-15. The big man from Pontiac, Michigan played in 32 of the Dawgs’ 33 games, averaging 5.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.4 BPG in 18.2 MPG.
Fox was able to integrate the Reptile Man, Maten is a Wildlife and Fisheries major at UGA, into the front court alongside some strong players like Nemanja Djurisic, Cameron Forte, and Marcus Thornton. While both Djurisic and Thornton graduated and Forte leaving the program after his sophomore season, it’s time for Yante Maten to shine down low for the Dawgs.
Mark Fox’s 2015 Georgia Bulldogs will likely lean on its back court Hydra of Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, and J.J. Frazier. I expect Georgia to start games out with the three guards on the court, with Yante Maten and either Juniors Juwan Parker or Kenny Paul Geno in the front court.
Dawn of the Dawg
This Georgia Bulldogs Men’s Team will have to cultivate a new identity as the smooth and silky play down low from Djurisic and Thornton are gone, as well as Forte’s Zach Randolph low post tenacity.
In 40 minutes of action, Yante Maten projected as a near double-double machine for the Dawgs last season, averaging 11.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG per 40. Though I doubt anybody will play 40 minutes a game for the Georgia Bulldogs next season, I have to believe that Yante Maten will get closer to 25 MPG as a true sophomore.
His field goal percentage does need to improve (41.6% in 2014-15) as does his free throw percentage (64.8%). I like his ability to rebound and rim protect at 6’8”, 240 lbs. Yante Maten’s inherent toughness is also a great attribute of his. The only game he missed in 2014-15 came after suffering a concussion by being hit by a car while on campus. He cleared UGA’s concussion protocol and was ready to play no long after the collision.
Maybe Yante and freshman Derek Ogbeide (6’8”, 250 lbs. from Pebblebrook HS in Mableton) could form a great defensive-minded low post presence for the Dawgs. Working together to secure both offensive and defensive rebounds could help the guard trio of Frazier, Gaines, and Mann put up more second shot opportunities or create plays in transition.
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It’s up to HC Mark Fox to decide how to best use his 2015-16 roster. Accounting for the losses down low of Djurisic, Forte, and Thornton will not come easy, but Mark Fox should feel better about a returning talent like Yante Maten down low.
How Yante handles a larger plate this season for the Dawgs could dictate if the Dawgs are going to get back into the NCAA Tournament for the second season in a row. While that’s the goal, the Georgia Bulldogs need to again win 20+ games in 2015-16 to keep the program trending in the right direction under Mark Fox’s leadership.
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