Luke Maye – North Carolina
Weight: 240 lbs
Age/Birthday: 21 (3/7/97)
Hometown: Huntersville, NC
High School: Hough High School
(Grant Kobrin – 3/14/18)
Luke Maye has had an incredible career at North Carolina through his first three years. He began his freshman season as an invited walk-on for the Tar Heels, after turning down scholarship offers from smaller programs such as Clemson and Davidson. Luke Maye hardly played as a freshman, which was expected considering his walk-on status. Then as a sophomore he became a solid role player off of the bench, where he received consistent minutes. Luke Maye expanded on this role in the NCAA tournament last year, where he played exceptionally well and even had the game winning shot in the elite eight against a talented Kentucky team that included NBA guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Maye’s game winner against Kentucky allowed UNC to advance to the final four and ultimately win their sixth national championship in school history. This season Luke Maye is averaging a double-double and is arguably the most impactful player, along with Joel Berry II, for this North Carolina team. Maye is not only putting up some of the best numbers in college basketball this season, but he is now considered a legitimate NBA prospect. Luke Maye is going to have an incredibly difficult decision as to where he will be playing basketball next season. He would certainly benefit from returning to Chapel Hill to continue to develop his game, but this also might be the best time for him to declare for the NBA draft.
Strengths: Luke Maye is a really smart basketball player, it really is as simple as that. He makes good decision with the ball in his hands, and has an excellent feel for the sport in general. He is supposedly an excellent student in the classroom as well, so this really shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Besides his high basketball IQ, Luke Maye has a strong build and knows how to use it. He almost looks more like a football player than a basketball player, which may have something to do with his father, Mark Maye, who was a former quarterback for North Carolina’s football team. Additionally, Luke Maye is highly skilled on the offensive end of the court and appears to be a good fit for pretty much any kind of NBA offense. He can really shoot the ball from all over the court, and has a fluid and high release on his jump shot. He is one of the most clutch shooters in college basketball, and that can’t be any more evident after his game winner against Kentucky in the elite eight last season.
Luke Maye is a threat driving to the basket, where he has shown to have a great pump fake, as well as a pretty good spin move. Maye is known to be a good finisher inside, but may need to change his approach to this when playing against NBA big men. Additionally, Maye is a good low-post scorer, although he seems to prefer to catch the ball on the perimeter. Luke Maye has also shown to have good court vision, and as mentioned earlier, he is someone that typically makes the right decision with the ball in his hands. Luke Maye’s greatest strength is his ability to rebound the basketball. He is averaging over 10 rebounds a game in the shorter college game, which should speak to the fact that he is an excellent rebounder. He really has a knack for rebounding, and seems to just always be in the right spot to snatch a rebound. He has played a significant role in North Carolina’s ability to dominate the offensive glass this season. Luke Maye’s ability to rebound the basketball at the level that he does will absolutely translate to the NBA game. Overall, Luke Maye is a highly skilled basketball player and has shown to be an excellent decision maker with the ball in his hands.
Weaknesses: Luke Maye is undersized as a power forward, as he is only listed at 6’8”, and honestly looks significantly shorter than that. It will be interesting to see how tall he really is when he is measured at the NBA combine. There have been a number of successful undersized power forwards in NBA history, such as Draymond Green, Thaddeus Young, and even Charles Barkley. All of those players have games that are very different than Luke Maye’s game though. This leads into Maye’s second major weakness, his below average athleticism. Luke Maye is not a very good athlete in the college game, and is going to really have a difficult time with this at the NBA level. He is not particularly quick or fast, and isn’t going to be able to overpower smaller defenders nearly as often in the NBA. Additionally, he is going have an extremely hard time guarding NBA level athletes. This is something that really limits Luke Maye’s ceiling as an NBA prospect. Besides Luke Maye’s major two weaknesses in his size and athleticism, he also is a bit of a tweener between a small forward and a power forward. Although, I really couldn’t see him playing much small forward in the NBA, because he isn’t quick enough to guard most small forwards on the perimeter. Lastly, and actually something that is pretty surprising, is that Luke Maye is a poor free throw shooter. This season is his best shooting performance from the freethrow line, and he is still shooting under 62% from the charity stripe. Considering the fact that he shoots just under 50% from the field, and about 44% from the three point line, this really doesn’t make a lot of sense as he is a proven shooter. It may just be a mental thing, but Luke Maye should work to improve this portion of his game. Overall, Luke Maye has a few glaring weaknesses, but his high basketball IQ and overall skill level may allow him to compensate for this at the NBA level.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Doug McDermott
Luke Maye is one of the most difficult NBA prospects in college basketball this season to find a good NBA comparison for. Doug McDermott is who I believe is the closest thing to Luke Maye in the NBA today. Both players are around the same size, can shoot the basketball very well, are good decision makers, have shown to rebound the ball well before, and are below-average defenders and athletes at the NBA level. However, Doug McDermott is a small forward which doesn’t make for a perfect comparison, however their games are too similar that they are still comparable players nevertheless. Additionally, if Luke Maye were to transition to more of a small forward role in the NBA, this would of course make a lot more sense. The only other flaw in this comparison is that McDermott is a more prolific shooter and scorer than Maye, and Maye is a better rebounder than McDermott. No two players are exactly alike, so this still makes for a pretty good comparison.
Luke Maye is the most improved player in college basketball that fans have witnessed in a very long time. From a walk-on, to a bench player, to a double-double machine, Luke Maye has certainly had a quite a journey playing for North Carolina. Luke Maye will need to make a critical decision at the end of the season about whether he will be returning to North Carolina or turning pro. His performance in March Madness will certainly play a role in this decision, but ultimately I believe that he will in fact return to Carolina for his senior year. He most likely won’t be drafted this year, and would be much better off returning for his senior year this season just as Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson did after last year’s national championship. Another year playing for Roy Williams could make it more probable that he makes an NBA team in the near-future.
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