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UNC Basketball Summer Checklist: Luke Maye

Luke Maye has an opportunity to earn big minutes in 2016; is he ready?

Luke Maye looks to pass against Guilford
How can Luke Maye earn minutes in 2016-2017?

The next installment in the Tar Heel Summer Checklist series leads us to Luke Maye, a rising sophomore forward from Huntersville, North Carolina. The son of former Tar Heel quarterback Mark Maye, Luke originally came to North Carolina as a recruited walk-on, but earned a scholarship last year.

Unlike many of his blue chip teammates, expectations were very low for Maye when he arrived in Chapel Hill. He played somewhat sparingly, but performed well enough to earn 5+ minutes per game as a freshman. While his contributions were fairly minimal across the board, Maye actually rebounded at a very strong rate; in fact, both his offensive and defensive rebound percentages (16.1% and 17.9%, respectively) were better than Isaiah Hicks’ numbers. He even managed to mimic Mr. Hicks with a good old fashioned dunk shot during last year’s exhibition game vs. Guilford:

With Brice Johnson and Joel James departed, and only Tony Bradley coming in to provide post depth, Maye has an opportunity for much bigger minutes this season. Frankly, his biggest competition for minutes will be with the guards, as Coach Williams may decide to shift Theo Pinson or Justin Jackson to the “4” for longer stretches.

If Maye wants to make his case as a legitimate backup power forward, here are three things he should be focusing on this summer:

1. “Run faster and jump higher”

At 6’7”, with an average-to-below-average wingspan, and a below-average vertical leap, Maye simply doesn’t share the same physical gifts that many of his conference foes possess. Those deficiencies caused Maye to struggle around the basket, as taller, more athletic defenders had little trouble blocking or altering his shot.

While added explosiveness would certainly help him offensively, it’s his defense that truly stands to benefit from increased speed and agility. With “4s” getting progressively quicker and more perimeter oriented with each passing season, the challenge for Maye is only getting more daunting. Last season, he committed 5.8 Fouls per 40 Minutes, largely due to physical mismatches; while he won’t need to worry about staying on the floor for nearly that many minutes, the Tar Heel defense needs him to figure out how to defend his position without fouling.

So, this summer, Luke should be putting significant time into improving his speed, quickness, agility, and leaping ability (that’s all, no big deal). I’m no strength coach, but I understand that P F Flyers make you run faster and jump higher; maybe start with a pair of those. Or, he wants to get really innovative, I think Luke would look great in a pair of these bad boys:

Luke Maye's plyometric shoes, I hope
Luke Maye’s secret weapon

2. Become a 3-point threat

Though he only knocked down two triples last season, Maye was actually a prolific 3-point shooter in high school. Much like fellow sophomore Kenny Williams, Maye possesses solid form, a history of knocking down shots, and now 178 minutes worth of experience.

Thus, I fully expect Maye to help the Tar Heels stretch the floor this season. I don’t think he’ll immediately become a deadeye shooter (and he’s certainly not going to become Doug McDermott, like some fans have suggested...); but, if he knocks down a few deep shots early in the year, he’ll force teams to respect him. That alone will free up much-needed space for a team built more for slashing than shooting.

“Get better at shooting 3s” has been a common theme during the Summer Checklist series, so Luke should have plenty of moral support in this endeavor. That famous shooting drill that Joel Berry did last summer needs to become a staple in Luke’s routine. If he can become a consistent 35% 3-Point shooter, the Tar Heels bench immediately takes a significant step forward.

Luke Maye's arcade basketball routine
Luke Maye’s summer routine

3. Work on those dance moves

While last year’s sophomore class made considerable contributions on the court, it was their dance moves that truly distinguished them. Now a sophomore himself, Luke Maye has quite a bit of work to do if he hopes to replicate those efforts.

Now, nobody is expecting Luke to become Joel Berry or Theo Pinson, much less Danny Green; but, we need to do better than this:

So, Luke, if you’re listening: Before school is back in session and there are people around to see you, maybe put in a few hours on those dance moves. Lace up those P F Flyers extra tight, turn on a little Michael Jackson, and just let it fly. Tar Heel Nation is counting on you.