Armstrong: UNC's Luke Maye has gone from lowly to legend

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Of all the legendary shotmakers in UNC history -- none was more unlikely than Luke Maye. From nowhere, with a cold-blooded last-second game-winner vs. Kentucky, he launched himself into Tar Heel lore.

I can still feel my hands quaking in the aftermath, such was the moment. I also remember the confidence his unsurprised teammates expressed afterward.

Theo Pinson was straightforward: "I'm not shocked at all. Like I said -it's about time he does it because he's been killing us in practice all year."

When I asked Maye afterward if the shot felt good off his hand, he smiled.

"It looked great coming off the hand, and I thought it might've been a little long but luckily it hit the back of the rim and went in," he said.

That confidence was a surprise in the moment but it's a confidence that head coach Roy Williams always shared about Maye, even if early on, he was standing alone.

"I had one coach say, Coach, you like Luke a lot more than anyone else does..." Williams shared Thursday. "I said, that's right, and I'm the frickin' head coach. That makes a difference."

Maye is very thankful for Williams' guidance.

"Coach Williams has done everything in his power to make me the player I am, and I've grown a lot, but I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for me."
The story's been well-told -- a preferred walk-on so enamored with Carolina that he turned down offers elsewhere. It wasn't easy at first. Maye wondered how he'd grow into his new school.

"I was just kind of questioning if I would make any friends my freshman year," he said.

That was off the court. On the court wasn't much better. He initially looked out of his league. But boy did that change. Williams remembers a very specific conversation with Maye.

"When a young man sits in my office and says Coach I'm going to show you. No one's going to outwork me," Williams recalled.

From that lightning bolt in Memphis to a national title, Maye morphed into a star his junior season. Never a jaw-dropper, but more often than not, the best player on the court. It is simple, Maye said: "I just had a lot of confidence in myself."

His senior year has been more understated. Still pumping out double-doubles, he's left the fireworks to the likes of Coby White and Cam Johnson. On Saturday, he bears down for yet another battle vs. the Blue Devils.

"I wouldn't trade it for anything and it's really given me a sense of gratitude," Maye said. "It's been a very special four years for me."

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