Thursday, 16 March 2017 12:07

Maye a regular in Roy's rotation

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North Carolina's Luke Maye had a career-high 15 rebounds against Florida State in January. North Carolina's Luke Maye had a career-high 15 rebounds against Florida State in January. Tim Cowie

Luke Maye grew up wanting to be a Tar Heel, and the dream is now reality for the former Hough High star, who is headed to his second NCAA Tournament.

But this postseason trip is different for the sophomore forward. He’s now a regular in Roy Williams’ rotation.

“This year I knew I’d have a bigger role, a bigger opportunity,” Maye said after scoring 10 points, then a career-high, in Carolina’s 83-74 win over Davidson in December. “I just want to continue to get better every game.”

Maye is playing 13.8 minutes, scoring 4.9 points and pulling down 3.7 rebounds per game off the bench. It took some time for him to acclimate to a reserve role, but he’s embraced his opportunity and continued to carve himself a larger role at the same college where his father, Mark, was a starting quarterback in the 1980s.

“That’s an adjustment, just being ready at any moment to come off the bench,” said Maye. “But I feel like I’m going to go in and play the same way I would if I were to start. Just having that mentality going in is something that helps my game.”

Maye has played 20 or more minutes four times this season, helping the Tar Heels to a regular season ACC championship and their 16th No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Along with fellow forward Tony Bradley, he led the team with eight rebounds in the 107-56 thrashing of N.C. State Jan. 8. Two games later, he had a career-high 15 boards in the Tar Heels’ 13-point win over Florida State. Maye scored a career-best 13 points in Carolina’s double-digit win at N.C. State in February.

Williams praised Maye after his 15-rebound game.

“He was huge for us, and he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever coached,” said Williams. “He has a feel for rebounding the basketball, and he was huge for us today.”

The Tar Heels (27-7) have the No. 1 seed in the South Region and play No. 16 Texas Southern at 4 p.m. Friday in Greenville, S.C., televised by TNT.

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