UNC Basketball 2018-19 Player Preview: Luke Maye


From walk-on to Preseason AP All-American, Luke Maye looks to finish his UNC career with a banner and collect some other accolades as well.

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One of the biggest surprises in recent memory for Carolina basketball, Luke Maye’s development from his freshman year, has him heading into this season with a lot of accolades and expectations.

With the season just around the corner, Maye looks to not only take on the offensive responsibility he had last year but take on the senior leadership Joel Berry and Theo Pinson left him with.

With no doubt he will take on that leadership role with great pride, something tells me Maye isn’t done proving the doubters wrong.

2017-18 Season in Review

Though last year was a bit disappointing and ended unexpectedly for the Tar Heels, Luke Maye had a year to remember.

Maye came into the year as someone who needed to step into a huge role after the departures of Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley left the frontcourt hindered.

The senior ended last year as part of the All-ACC First Team as well as being the league’s most improved player and a finalist for the Karl Malone Award for the top power forward in the country.

Finishing with an average of 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds, Maye became just the sixth Tar Heel over the last 40 years to average a double-double.

Though Joel Berry and Theo Pinson were the senior leaders, Maye’s performance all year long can’t go overlooked. Without his impact and ability to fill the major hole left in the frontcourt, last year would have gone entirely different.

What to expect in 2018-19?

With three years under his belt for the Tar Heels, you know what to expect out of him. His development and worth ethic is something that isn’t questioned, and his skillset is, at times, unmatched.

Coming off the season he had last year, and the lofty expectations he has heading into this season, Maye will once again shoulder most of the load and leadership.

There is no question the preseason ACC Player of the Year wore down towards the end of last year due to Carolina’s inability to find other consistent offensive options from game-in and game out, but this year will be different.

With more options around him, Maye can let the game come more to him instead of forcing the issue as he did at times a year ago.

Maye’s versatility will allow the Heels to play him at his traditional position at the four, but can even play him more effectively at the five. With the skilled players around him on the floor at all times, Maye’s ability to play multiple positions is something you can expect to see throughout the season.

Because there are so many more options this year, don’t be surprised if Maye’s numbers stay relatively similar to last seasons’, but watch his effectiveness and passing ability increase and be a crucial factor the Tar Heels in 2018.

Strengths and something he needs to improve on…

The senior from Huntersville, North Carolina has improved every single year he has been in Chapel Hill and I have no doubt he has done the same this offseason.

A good shooter, Maye knocked down 43 percent from three last year. His ability to stretch the floor not only opens up driving lanes but also brings the opposing shot blockers away from the paint as well.

In addition, something that Maye has really improved on is his passing ability. Coming off of a season in which he averaged 2.4 assists a game, his skill set allows for the Carolina offense to thrive when a double team comes to him in the post. With good vision and touch, he was able to find the open cutter numerous times last season when double-teamed.

Related Story. Luke Maye Named Preseason ACC POY. light

His good passing ability combined with his ball handling skills allows him to lead fast breaks on long rebounds and steals; just another way Maye’s skillset is like few others.

Maye was also one of the best rebounders in the ACC last year as he ranked just second behind Marvin Bagley III with 10.1 rebounds a game. That number was also good enough for 20th nationally.

Now, after all of that, is there really a lot a guy can improve on from a season in which he averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and shot 49 percent from the field and 43 percent from three? The answer is yes.

The 6-foot-9 forward struggled throughout the season against more athletic and longer lineups. Due to Maye’s lack of length and low vertical, he wasn’t always effective getting his shot up in the paint against more athletic defenders, having shooting games of 23 percent (Mich State), 42 percent (Florida St), 40 percent (Duke), and 37 percent (Texas A&M), all of which had athletic frontlines, and three of which having current NBA players in their frontcourts.

Because of his lack of ability to be as effective in the paint against those type of teams, Maye settled for jump shots more often than even Roy Williams wants and made just four of 17 attempts from three in those games.

So the bottom line is, Maye just needs to be more efficient against higher level teams.

On the defensive end, being able to go to the smaller lineup means that Maye will also have to defend either quicker or bigger players depending on switches. Though he has good footwork, his lack of length will force him to play upon wings which could result in their ability to get into the middle of the lane easier than usual.

Bold prediction

With the great career Maye has already had, and the preseason accolades he has received, it’s only right if he ends his career by getting his jersey hung up in the Dean Dome rafters.

With more skill on the wings for the Heels and the increased use of the smaller lineup, Maye will go on to have a terrific senior season averaging around 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists a game, leading the Tar Heels to another National Championship.

Individually, he will live up to the preseason awards, winning ACC Player of the Year, Carolina’s second in three years, be a First Team All-American and go on to win National Player of the year.

Because Maye’s game isn’t the sexiest and his name doesn’t bring the hype as some other players around the country, I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t win National Player of the year even with putting up those numbers.

Next. Luke Maye named to Naismith Trophy Watch List. dark

A guy who has been written off his entire career in the national eye, I wouldn’t put it past him to go out with a bang and get the last laugh.