Everyone involved with the Tar Heel basketball program knows who Luke Maye is. After sinking a clutch last second shot to send his team to the final four, it would be pretty hard to not get loads of attention. The viral video of Maye showing up to class the next morning at 8 a.m. only furthered his celebrity status in Chapel Hill. While many fans already view him as a hero, it is possible that his legacy is just getting started.
Luke Maye was certainly not the most hyped recruit in high school. He was listed as a four star recruit by ESPN and three star recruit by 247Sports, and he wasn’t heavily recruited by many top programs. In fact, when Maye committed to North Carolina , he was not offered a scholarship by coach Williams. However once Williams failed to sign Brandon Ingram, Maye was offered the final scholarship spot.
Maye’s freshman year on campus was not glamorous at all. While the Tar Heels were able to make it all the way to the national championship, Maye received very little playing time due to a packed front court. He only averaged 5.6 minutes per games and scored 1.2 points per game during his rookie season.
During his sophomore season, the fruits of Maye’s patience began to show. He had an increased role off the bench and his playing time went up to 14.2 minutes per game. As a result, his stats increased across the board. Not only did more playing time bring higher stats to Maye, they also brought a few pretty big moments.
Early on in the 2017 ACC schedule, the Tar Heels hosted the No. 9 Florida State Seminoles in Chapel Hill. In a dominating win by the Tar Heels, Maye had arguably the best performance of his career to that point. Maye was able to pull down a career high 15 rebounds in a win that set the tone for Carolina’s ACC regular season championship. However, Maye’s best was yet to come.
The biggest impact that Luke Maye left on the Tar Heels, undoubtedly, came in the NCAA tournament. In the Sweet Sixteen against Butler, Maye provided 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Maye was able to provide an invaluable lift off the bench in on of the biggest games of the season. However, Maye’s biggest moment as a Tar Heel would come two days later.
In the Elite Eight, the Tar Heels faced the Kentucky Wildcats, a team that they lost to earlier in the season. The game was too close for comfort the entire time. There was little separation between the two teams until late in the game; it seemed as if Carolina was pulling away. However, a late comeback and clutch three point shot by Malik Monk left the game tied at 73 with only 7.2 seconds left in the game.
Then Luke Maye happened. After receiving a pass on the move from Theo Pinson, Maye quickly set up to take a long two-pointer that would likely win the game. He drained it. The unlikely hero scored a career high 17 with his last basket being the most important. His heroic effort led to him being named the MVP of the South region, and it allowed the Tar Heels to advance to the Final Four enroute to a national championship.
While Luke Maye’s spot in Carolina basketball history has surely already been cemented, there could be many more great moments to come. Last season’s starters Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are gone, so Maye is likely to step into one of frontcourt starting positions. In his junior season, it would not be surprising to see Maye average double digits in rebounding or scoring.
Fans already love Luke Maye because of his game winning shot and loyalty to the Tar Heel program, but many more will learn to love him for his importance to team going forward. He may never be considered a program great like Michael Jordan and James Worthy, but he will always have his own place in Tar Heel history. Maye’s legacy is already far greater than many would expected when he first committed to Carolina, and it is just getting started.