KU basketball newcomer Zeke Mayo leads the way at ‘Rock Chalk Roundbowl Classic’

An accomplished bowler, lifelong Lawrence resident Zeke Mayo has spent a lot of time at Lawrence’s Royal Crest Lanes throughout the years.

“Too many to count,” Mayo, a 21-year-old Kansas senior men’s basketball combo guard, said with a smile, asked how many times he’s visited the local bowling alley.

He put his familiarity with the lanes to good use Saturday, defeating former KU basketball players Travis Releford and Calvin Thompson in a two-frame competition to conclude Saturday’s “Rock Chalk Roundbowl Classic.”

Mayo’s high score for the day — several Jayhawks past and present participated with KU fans in the fundraiser to support local families with children battling cancer — was 160.

His career high?

“Definitely above 220. I’m not exactly sure, but I know I’ve bowled over 220,” said Mayo, a Lawrence High graduate who played his first three seasons of college basketball at South Dakota State. In fact he was the 2024 Summit League Player of the Year.

Some of the Jayhawks on hand for Saturday’s bowling festivities — many also competed in Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic KU alumni hoops game and also attended a dinner/auction Friday at the Burge Union — included former Jayhawks Sherron Collins, Gradey Dick, Mason Fairchild, Jeff Graves and Darrell Stuckey plus current Jayhawks Patrick Cassidy, Zach Clemence, Justin Cross, Wilder Evers, Jamari McDowell, S’mya Nichols, Noah Shelby, Will Thengvall and Dillon Wilhite.

Cassidy, a senior from Columbus, Kansas, rolled an impressive 191 for the highest individual game of any Jayhawk on Saturday.

“It’s a blessing to be here and be part of something like this,” Mayo said. “The Roundball Classic is obviously a huge event. The University of Kansas sports programs are big, and like I said we’re all blessed to be able to support this.”

Mayo and the rest of his KU teammates have been on campus since the start of summer school on June 3.

“We’ve been looking pretty solid,” Mayo said of the 2024-25 Jayhawks, who are allowed to practice basketball several hours a week in accordance with NCAA rules. “We are all getting acclimated to the system the past two weeks. Our offensive groove is coming. Our perimeter guys are knocking down shots like they came here to do,” he added.

Mayo is joined on the perimeter by fellow transfer guards AJ Storr (Wisconsin), Rylan Griffen (Alabama), Shakeel Moore, (Mississippi State) and Shelby (Rice) plus freshman Rakease Passmore. They join returning guards McDowell and Dajuan Harris.

“All of us,” Mayo said, asked which guards have been playing well of late. “We’ve all competed at a very, very high level. Spots are going to be hard to get locked up for sure.”

Mayo said he and his teammates have tried to support sophomore guard Elmarko Jackson, who suffered a knee injury on June 4 that will force him to miss the entire season.

“He’s doing well, is in good spirits. Some of us have reached out to him. He just had surgery. He’s come back from that and is doing well,” Mayo said.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Mayo arrives at KU after a junior season in which he averaged 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He hit 46.6% of his shots and 39.1% of his 3s (92 of 235).

“It’s been looking pretty solid. The first couple days it was a little rough,” Mayo said of his shot. “Obviously you pick that (accuracy) up as time goes on.”

Former KU guard Sherron Collins of KU’s 2008 NCAA title team, attended the three events associated with the Roundball Classic, including Saturday’s bowling.

He explained why Jayhawks past and present support the charity event, organized by KU basketball and football radio play-by-play announcer Brian Hanni the past 16 years.

“The town, the city, the kids. We love this city so much,” Collins, head boys basketball coach at Oak Park High, said. “It gave us so much. It took care of us. The love they gave us, we can’t do anything but give it back. This is the least we can do.”

Collins, who hit three 3s in the Roundball Classic KU alumni game Thursday at Free State High, said: “I told the guys the old guys are going to come out and get their shots. The younger guys can bring it home. They did exactly what we told ‘em to. It was fun. I think we need more NBA guys to come back and make this game even bigger.”

He was thrilled that Christian Braun of the Denver Nuggets, Jalen Wilson of the Brooklyn Nets, Devonté Graham of the San Antonio Spurs and Ochai Agbaji of the Toronto Raptors all played in the basketball game.

“We’re proud of ‘em,” Collins said. “We’ve seen them get better and better, and now they are doing it at the highest level against the best players. You take your hat off to them. Also it shows the development they get in our program.”