Burlington Central grad Mayfield makes move to Division I basketball
Not many players can do what Patrick Mayfield is -- making the jump from Division III to Division I basketball.
But if there's someone with the background to do it, it's this self-described "late bloomer" from Burlington Central High School.
Mayfield, who averaged 17.1 points this season at the University of Dubuque, announced this spring he is transferring to Akron. He'll go from playing Wartburg, Coe and Loras to an Akron team headed by former Illini coach John Groce that went 15-8 last year and lost to Buffalo in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament.
The 6-foot-5 Mayfield spent June at Akron playing with and against his new teammates, learning how his game translates to the Division I level.
He knows it will be a challenge, but he's already made a similar leap in high school -- going from not making varsity as a freshman and a role player as a sophomore to averaging an area-best 26.9 points a game as a senior.
It helped to grow three inches between his junior and senior seasons, and Mayfield put in the time in the gym.
"I would definitely say late bloomer is probably the perfect term," Mayfield said. "I work super hard but definitely late bloomer because I didn't grow until late and the strength aspect didn't come til later. Late bloomer for me. I trusted the process and always worked super hard and now everything is coming together."
Mayfield, a junior who will have three years of eligibility remaining, shot 52.9% from 3-point range helping Dubuque go 14-0 this season and win the American Rivers Conference championship. There was no Division III national tournament.
After the season Mayfield reached out to another Burlington Central alum, Brett Rau, now a graduate assistant coach at Akron. Mayfield visited and decided to transfer.
"It's always been a goal of mine to play Division I but I never thought during my Division III career I'm just doing this to go Division I. I always took it day by day and tried to get better all the time," said Mayfield, who said he's playing a "3-and-D" role with the Zips.
"I'm super blessed and grateful for this opportunity that presented itself. I really like it (Akron) and am fitting in well with the guys. I like the coaching staff. Love coach Groce. He's super intense the whole time. He's always ready to go. There will never be a time where people are going through the motions because he'll call you out. Practice is always intense."
Mayfield said he started to believe he could play Division I after training with Zac Boster's top group that included players like Rolling Meadows grad Max Christie, now at Michigan State.
"That opened up my eyes to how good I was and where I could be in the future, not necessarily where I was at at the moment but how much better my game could be with my work ethic and my passion for the game," Mayfield said. "It kind of showed me how well I was able to compete against them."
In what turned out to be his final game at Dubuque, Mayfield exploded for 22 second-half points, outscoring Buena Vista 22-21 in the half to help the Spartans to a comeback win in the conference tournament championship game,
Now he's looking forward to the Division I challenge.
"I felt this was definitely a smart move and I had to do for my career moving forward," Mayfield said. "I'm still getting accustomed to the speed of the game and the physicality and stuff. Still trying to get acclimated to this. You have to be perfect with everything you do. The whole time you have to be fully focused, you can't slack off or you are going to get exposed."