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Illinois Basketball’s Matthew Mayer Signs with the Houston Rockets



Illinois Basketball's Matthew Mayer Signs with the Houston Rockets
Mar 2, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Matthew Mayer (24) celebrates with teammates after a 91-87 Illinois fighting Illini win in double overtime over the Michigan Wolverines at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Basketball’s Matthew Mayer Signs with the Houston Rockets

Illinois Basketball did not have players to watch on Thursday’s NBA draft. Terrence Shannon Jr and Coleman Hawkins both decided to return to school instead of staying in the draft. Both players seemed to make the right choice. Ricky Council IV, a similar player to Shannon Jr, went undrafted. Notable college players like Drew Timme, Adama Sanogo and Oscar Tshiebwe went undrafted as well. Though Hawkins and Shannon Jr were projected as possible second round picks, the aforementioned players all were expected to be late picks as well.

Matthew Mayer was a part of the 2023 draft pool. However, he was never a projected draft pick. Mayer is an older forward that only received an invite to the G-league Combine. After officially going undrafted, Mayer signed a deal with the Houston Rockets.

A unique skillset.

Mayer was a polarizing figure during his one year in Champaign. In spurts, he showed a unique skillset for his size. Mayer was a true double-double threat with immense shot-making ability when he kept his game simple. His games against Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin are games Illinois won thanks to his shot creation. However, on the flipside, he had some true negative moments.

To start, he publicly voiced criticism about Brad Underwood and his coaching methods. On the court, he often times fell asleep on defense or was simply throwing up some terrible shots. He also ended the season extremely poorly. After a whole bit about “Caffeine Toxicity” and claiming he is the best defensive player in the nation, Mayer finished off his final year 1-20 from 3pt land, with a total 25% fg percentage.

Can he stick in the league?

Despite his struggles, Matthew Mayer has the skillset to play in the NBA. Houston has some very versatile front court pieces like Alperin Seguin, and Mayer could very well be a part of that. If he can keep his game simple during the summer league, I do think that Matthew Mayer can find his way onto a G-league team and possibly land a two way deal. He will not be asked to create shots as much as he had to this past year, and that will certainly benefit him.

Overall, Matthew Mayer was a huge part of a winning season in Champaign. If Matthew Mayer is on an NBA roster, Fans will certainly monitor the eccentric personality.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.