UNC Basketball: Luke Maye 2017-18 season preview

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03: Head coach Roy Williams and Luke Maye
GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03: Head coach Roy Williams and Luke Maye /

How can Luke Maye build off a formidable sophomore campaign?

Walker Miller | Sterling Manley | Brandon Huffman | Garrison Brooks | Andrew Platek Jalek Felton K.J. Smith | Shea Rush | Brandon Robinson | Seventh Woods | Kenny Williams

With about ten seconds left on the game clock, Kentucky’s Malik Monk took the dribble hand-off.

Wasting no time, Monk turned and fired a difficult three-point shot, converting and tying the game at 73 apiece. Rapidly, North Carolina’s Theo Pinson caught the inbound pass and rushed up the court. Pinson did his own rendition of a dribble hand-off, this time finding a wide-open Luke Maye.

With just over two seconds remaining, Maye threw up a shot just inside the arc, converting, and sending his Tar Heels to the Final Four.

“It was a lot different, having a lot of people know who I am walking through town, coming back home,” Maye said about the aftermath of the shot at ACC Media Day. “Just more recognition, more pictures. More autographs. But I’ve gotten used to it, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed making people’s day.”

Still, Maye hopes to prove his famous jump shot was only the beginning of a monster finish to his North Carolina career.

2016-17 season review

Maye’s sophomore season will always be remembered for his heroic shot against Kentucky, if not his whole college career.

However, outside of his big bucket in the Elite Eight, Maye had a pretty solid second season in Chapel Hill.

In just about fourteen minutes per game, the forward averaged approximately six points and four rebounds per contest.

As a freshman, Maye only earned about five minutes a game, scoring about one point and grabbing two rebounds per contest.

His improvements as a sophomore earned him two team awards. He was last seasons recipient of UNC’s Danny Green Award as the team’s most improved player, and also the Tyler Zeller Award as the team’s top student-athlete.

2017-18 role and preview

North Carolina’s frontcourt of last season no longer remains. Maye enters the season as the lone big man with college experience. The Tar Heels lost the likes of Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Tony Bradley.

Maye will be tasked with carrying a load of the Tar Heels rebounding, as well as teaching three freshmen how to play college basketball.

Additionally, Maye will likely be tasked with defending the largest opponent. He must develop into a strong low post defender for North Carolina.

Offensively, he will need to become a versatile threat. He will always be an effective shooter who can step out and draw a big man with him. Last season he shot 48% from the field and 40% from deep.

He needs to also find ways to score on the low post, which would make him a more all-around player.

Building off that, if he can develop into a better pick-and-roll threat, the Tar Heel offense could be greatly enhanced.

Bottom-line, Maye is the main frontcourt threat in the North Carolina frontcourt. He will be responsible for defending the biggest opponent, rebounding effectively, and evolving into a greater scoring threat.


As briefly touched upon above, Maye is a very effective shooting big man. Last season he shot a respectable 48% from the field, 40% from three, and 58% from the charity stripe.

Furthermore, he is a very athletic player for his size. As the Charlotte Observer reports, Maye has worked extensively on his conditioning, and it is paying off.

“Luke is extremely confident right now, and he should be,” coach Roy Williams said to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean, he wins every sprint, wins every 12-minute run, he wins the mile, he prepares himself in the top 5 percent of any player I’ve ever coached.”

Bold Prediction

Maye will become a preeminent defender in the ACC, and also rebound over ten missed shots per contest. Being that the Tar Heels frontcourt is lean with experience, coach Williams would certainly appreciate if he could get that from Maye.

Nevertheless, I would not expect Maye to make many strides forward offensively. What we have seen from him is likely what we will get on that side of the ball. If he can become a solid defender and rebounder, that should not matter.

Next: UNC Basketball: Kenny Williams 2017-18 season preview