UNC Basketball: Luke Maye returns to Tar Heels with a goal in mind

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Luke Maye
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Luke Maye /

Luke Maye explains why he returned to UNC as he has a big goal in mind

It wasn’t the ending Luke Maye and the rest of the North Carolina Tar Heels had imagined it would be when they lost on the opening weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The loss came a year after the Tar Heels had won the National Championship and were seeking a third-straight Final Four appearance.

Now as we enter the Summer months and flip the page to a new season, at least one UNC player is using that loss as motivation.

Forward Luke Maye decided to return to North Carolina after testing the NBA Draft waters and working out with NBA teams. Maye’s decision to return to UNC was big as he’s one of three seniors that played valuable minutes last season.  It also gives UNC a proven scorer on a team that will be young and inexperienced at times.

For Maye, part of the reason why he returned was because of that loss to Texas A&M and he revealed that while meeting the media on Tuesday at Roy Williams’ annual basketball camp in Chapel Hill.

“Watching two weekends (of the NCAA Tournament) is something I am not going to go out with this year,” Maye said via Inside Carolina.

After making back-to-back Final Fours, watching the final two weekends of the tournament at home had to be tough for Maye and the Tar Heels. He’s returning with the chance to go to the Final Four for the third time in his four-year career, something that would put his accolades among the best at UNC.

It’s become his big goal going into the season as he shared during Tuesday’s press conference.

“(I have) one goal in mind and that is making it to the last weekend, the last Monday night,” Maye said via IC.

In 2017 Maye had one of the biggest shots in UNC history when he drained a shot from the left wing to beat Kentucky with .2 seconds left in the Elite 8. UNC would go on to win the National Championship by beating Oregon and Gonzaga.

A year later, Maye broke out.

During his junior year Maye averaged 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, all career-highs. In addition he recorded a double-double in 17 games. For his efforts, Maye earned First Team All-ACC in his junior year.

He now has the chance to be the go-to guy for UNC in 2018-19.

As previously mentioned, UNC is losing a lot of experience with both Theo Pinson and Joel Berry graduating. They are also losing two leaders from the team giving Maye the chance to step up and be one of those leaders.

With a talented recruiting class coming in, Maye will have the opportunity to step up into that leadership role and guide the younger players.

That includes big men Sterling Manley, Garrison Brooks and Brandon Huffman who are all entering a very important sophomore season.

Maye’s return is important not only because of his talent but for the leadership ability as well.

Next: Roy Williams is excited for upcoming season

Williams’ camp continues this week and another session next week with former and current players on campus for the event. For more on the camp and UNC basketball, please check back with Keeping It Heel.