Former Baylor forward Matthew Mayer and his mullet recently withdrew from the 2022 NBA Draft and entered the transfer portal. On Thursday, Mayer told Stadium that he had four finalists to be his transfer destination: Illinois, Memphis, North Carolina, and Texas Tech.

And on Friday, Mayer made his transfer decision.

The 6’9″ forward announced on Instagram that he’s transferring to play hoops for the Illinois Fighting Illini.


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This is a big get for Illinois head coach Brad Underwood, who also reeled in one of Mayer’s teammates in big man Dain Danja (only played nine minutes in 2021-22 as a freshman), along with Texas Tech wing Terrence Shannon Jr. (10.4 points per game in 2021-22).

Mayer averaged 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds for Baylor in the 2021-22 season while starting all 33 games. He also ranked high in the major defensive metrics, such as first in the Big 12 in Defensive Rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions).

In the 2020-21 season, Mayer was a key contributor — and fan favorite — for the national champion Baylor squad. He averaged 8.1 points and had what were easily his career-best shooting numbers from the field: 48.9 field goal percentage (compared to 40.9 in 2021-22), 39.5 three-point percentage (32.4 in 2021-22), and 55.4 two-point percentage (48.4 in 2021-22). So, Illinois certainly hopes that he can rediscover that shooting efficiency.

In what’s a loaded transfer portal, Mayer came in at No. 1 overall among transfers according to Evan Miya’s portal rankings.

Illinois went 23-10 and was a 4-seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, but the team will look significantly different next season. Kofi Cockburn is off to the pros, Austin Hutcherson and Jacob Grandison declared for the NBA Draft but haven’t made their official decisions yet, Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams, and Alfonso Plummer ran out of college eligibility, and Andre Curbelo, Brandin Podziemski, Omar Payne, and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk all transferred.

But Underwood and his staff have a highly regarded freshman recruiting class, and they’ve now made a few impact moves in the transfer portal. This will be a really interesting team to watch, and they have a high upside if everything clicks.

Here’s a look at how the college basketball world is reacting to Mayer choosing Illinois:

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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