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UNC Basketball: Luke Maye named second-best returning player in college basketball

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Luke Maye has gone from a former walk-on to one of the most important players in the game.

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This afternoon, the NCAA March Madness Twitter account tweeted out NCAA.com correspondent Andy Katz’s top five returning players in NCAA basketball. Throughout the week, the Twitter account counted down 20 players who Katz thinks will make a major splash for their respective teams once basketball tips off in November, and to this point there was a noticeable absence of anybody sporting Carolina blue. Needless to say, we now have our answer, and the hero of the 2017 Elite Eight game made the cut.

Luke Maye was named the second-best returning player going into the 2018-19 season. Following his breakout junior season, Maye entered the NBA Draft process to get some feedback on what he needs to do in order to be drafted next year. Given how this worked for Justin Jackson, one can only imagine that this will do wonders for Maye’s production, and could indeed help him do what he needs to do to hear his name called next year during the NBA Draft. According to Katz, Maye is very much in the running for ACC Player of the Year, and could help UNC win the ACC regular season title.

In the video, Katz also noted the help that Nassir Little will be able to provide next to Maye. As I touched on in a previous article, it is likely that Roy will not start Maye at the five, but Maye and Little seeing a lot of time on the court together is highly likely. Luke played with a target on his back after his stellar performances in the first half of the non-conference schedule. Little should be able to take some heat off of Maye, but the bigger story here is definitely the position that Luke will play. Starting him at the four may help with his consistency, and he also will have an easier time handling whoever he is guarding than he did when he was guarding players that have a significant size advantage on him. Maye can certainly hang with just about any big on the court, but him playing the four is absolutely the most ideal situation.

If you haven’t gotten the chance already, I recommend checking out our own Jake Lawrence’s article about the amount of veteran talent that will be returning to Chapel Hill this fall. The Heels will be one of the most experienced teams going into the season (championship experience at that), and with the addition of the three freshmen, Roy Williams will be in great position to make a lot of noise come March.