Maye is Here

We knew 'The Shot' would be memorable, but Luke Maye keeps giving fans reasons to remember the shooter.

When the Charlotte native hit 'The Shot', we thought he had cemented his legacy as a Tar Heel, but, as it turns out, the concrete hasn't quite dried. 

As the story goes, Maye chose between being an impact player at Davidson and a preferred walk-on at UNC. Though he was given a scholarship shortly before enrolling at UNC, no one could've expected the junior forward to become an impact player at UNC - that is, no one except Roy Williams. 

"The only guy who wanted Luke Maye as badly as me was Bobby McKillop (the head coach of Davidson)," Williams told reporters Friday night. "Needless to say, I'm very fortunate he said yes to us."

No matter how much the Hall of Fame coach praises Maye's shooting prowess or work ethic, his consistently elite level of play comes as a shock on a night in night out basis. 

When Maye arrived at UNC, he sat behind a talented group of bigs: Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Joel James. He was lucky to get off the bench, only finding meaningful minutes a few times his rookie campaign. 

Then Johnson and James graduated, and Maye saw some more time on the court. The Smith Center and every Tar Heel living room started applauding his every good deed: "Luuuuuuuuuuke". All the while, however, Maye had a superb post player within his supporting cast. 

Not this year, though. While the freshman big men show much potential and promise, none yet compare to Johnson, Meeks, Hicks or Tony Bradley. 

In UNC's 85-75 win Friday against Davidson at the Charlotte Hornet's Spectrum Center, Maye nearly matched Davidson in rebounding, grabbing a career-high 17 boards to the Wildcats' 23. Maye also scored 24 points, posting his fourth double-double of the year, which he had secured by halftime. 

Photo by Smith Hardy

Photo by Smith Hardy

He hasn't been perfect, however. Maye struggled to put up meaningful numbers against Michigan State, the Tar Heel's biggest test of the season thus far, and has shot poorly from the free throw line, a meager 53 percent. 

Despite this, he continues to put up numbers not even Antawn Jamison - whose jersey hangs in the highest tier of the Smith Center rafter among the likes of Hansbrough, Jordan and Worthy - could match in his 1997-98 National Player of the Year campaign.

Through eight games, Maye has strung together six 20-point performances, and each of his doubles-doubles has been accompanied by at least a 20-point outing. He's shooting 55 percent from the floor and 46 percent from behind the arc. 

Against an eager, revenge-seeking Arkansas squad in the PK-80 Tournament in Portland, Maye put up a career high 28 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists, a stat line most couldn't even put up in a video game. 

He wasn't supposed to even get a scholarship from UNC, much less be a star or even a starter, so how do we cope with the fact that a former preferred walk-on is playing out of his mind, as if he's contending for National Player of the Year?

I'm not entirely sure, but let's enjoy it.

Photo by Smith Hardy

Photo by Smith Hardy