Previous post from Jonathan Schuette…
With Kentucky reeling in yet another top rated recruiting class it’s easy to see that we’ll be in the running for our ninth national title. The stellar class in addition to transfer Ryan Harrow and returning sharpshooter Kyle Wiltjer will make certain of that. But, the current knock on next year’s ‘Cats is that they lack players who can send it home from deep. Over the past few months Coach Cal and his staff have been looking around the nation for the remaining elite players to be that last piece in that #9 puzzle, and Julius Mays may be that final piece. Mays, the Wright State transfer and former 3-star recruit (ZOMG!1!! Cal’s slipping!!1!1), has committed to Kentucky and will be an excellent fit. With Kentucky’s lack of perimeter shooting depth next season and May’s ability to connect from deep this can be a match made in heaven. Given the fact that basketball is more than just a perimeter shooting game I wanted to examine Mays’ career stats and give a preview of how he may be used in the Calipari system.
Last season while playing for Wright State Mays averaged a very respectable 14.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. While impressive Mays finished the season with an Offensive Rating of 107.4 (points produced per 100 possessions), this is encouraging because 100 is about the D-1 average. To obtain those offensive numbers one must be very efficient in shooting, and this was something that describes Mays perfectly. Last season he shot 42% (50-118) from three and connected on 83% (119-143) of his attempts from the charity stripe making him a very formidable weapon for an opponent to prepare for. In addition to his efficient shooting he also takes care of the ball on offense, only turning the ball over on 16.6% of personal possessions (or about 2.1 times a game). To go alongside his low turnover rate he also finished the season with a respectable assist rate of 20.6 (assists divided by the field goals made by the player’s teammates while he is on the court). So, it appears as though Mays can be a legitimate backup Point Guard for next year’s squad in addition to being a deadly perimeter shooter.
Mays isn’t just a one trick pony, he is a very solid defender to go with his balanced offensive attack. Last season Mays finished the season with a steal rate of 2.6, for perspective that would’ve put him in a virtual tie with Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones for first place on last year’s Kentucky team. This is an area where Kentucky has fallen flat over the past few seasons. The past three seasons we have rated 301st, 293rd, and 218th in turnovers produced so Mays would be a huge help in this area. Now it could be argued that steals aren’t necessary to excel in Cal’s system, but it is a nice luxury to have. Just think if a team is turning the ball over they are leaving potential points off the board which is a teams most critical asset (duh). Acquiring steals can be dangerous though, as it requires a player put himself in peril of having a foul called against him (I believe this to be the reason why Calipari coached teams to not force turnovers, his teams usually lack depth so unnecessary fouls while going for turnovers are a big risk). However, this was not an issue for Mays, per 40 minutes played last season he only averaged 2.7 fouls called against him per game. For perspective Marquis Teague averaged 2.8 fouls called per game last season. Given that Mays is not foul prone it may be of benefit to adjust the usual defensive game plan to make our defense more effective than it will certainly already be next season.
While Mays is a well rounded ball player he does have one area where he needs to work on and that is his interior shooting. Last season he connected on a mere 43% (77-179) of his two point shot attempts. Luckily for Mays he will not have to take the volume of two point shots in order for his team to be effective because Kentucky will have several elite big men and slashers that will take care of interior scoring. Despite his flaw I think that Mays will make the perfect addition to our Wildcats (if he were to decide to play here), he has every trait in his game that we need to have a complete team next season so I suspect that Cal and his staff are very happy with his decision to become a Wildcat.
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