When John Calipari added Julius Mays to the roster last spring, many were unsure of the impact the Wright State transfer would have. Yes he was going to be a fifth-year senior as a graduate student at UK, but would he be accepted as a leader in his first and only year under the bright lights of UK? And would others accept him in return? The answer to those questions have been an emphatic yes, but that is not all Mays has provided.
His production on the court has turned out to be crucial to the team’s success. Not many thought he’d be a starter at UK, but Ryan Harrow’s absence has helped create that opportunity and Mays has made the most of it. We knew he could shoot, and he has provided some shooting and a steady nine points per game, but he’s also been an excellent distributor. Mays is tied with Archie Goodwin for most assists per game (4.4), but leads the team in assists to turnover ratio. For every 4.4 assists he dishes out, Mays only turns the ball over one time. And, by the way, (completely unrelated to Mays) of the seven players who have played in all five games, Jarrod Polson has the fewest turnovers per game of anyone (0.6).
We weren’t sure of how productive Mays would turn out to be here, and it turns out that Mays himself was unsure. He told the
“Nah, I didn’t think I wasn’t good enough,” Mays said in explaining his hesitancy about UK. “I just thought they had another powerhouse, and they just needed another body. I didn’t want to go somewhere and just be another body.”
Mays has exceeded his own expectations, as well as those of Big Blue Nation, so far on the court. He’s actually turned into quite the fan favorite as well after giving a cramped-up Archie Goodwin a “piggy-back ride” back to the bench against Morehead State. This quote from the Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina pretty much sums up the way Julius has stepped in and accepted his role of big brother on the team, and has been accepted as the big brother from the very beginning:
“It is like playing with little brothers that I never had,” Mays said. “From the moment that I came here in the summer, they took me in and I took them in as well. It has been like a brotherhood ever since then. I feel like the relationship that we have off the court transfers over to the court.”
Five games in, there’s no doubt Mays has been a pleasant surprise, and it’s hard to see where this team would be without him right now.