To fully prepare for the 2012-13 basketball season, KSR conducted one-on-one interviews with each member of the Kentucky basketball team about their expectations for the team and what they would like to achieve individually. We’ll release two interviews per day throughout the week, beginning with the oldest but newest member of the team, Julius Mays. Mays transferred to UK from Wright State where he averaged 14 points per game as a junior while shooting 42% from beyond the arc.
When Julius Mays announced his intentions to transfer from Wright State for his senior season, he received a lot of interest from the top-tier basketball programs he grew up watching. Schools like Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois extended offers to the Marion, Indiana native, hoping he would enroll with them for his final year of eligibility. They all promised him playing time and a position to put up big numbers, but none of them could give him what he really wanted: the opportunity to play with the best of the best and compete for an NCAA title.
“Numbers weren’t important to me,” Mays told KSR in our exclusive interview. “If I’m going to come in here and average two points, ya know, if that’s what helps this team win, then I feel like that’s what is best for me. My thing with transferring, I had an opportunity to go to other big places and probably go into a starting role, or have more of a significant role like being a scorer, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to come and play with the best of the best, and be at the highest level, and have the best opportunity to win.”
Mays broke onto the scene in 2011-12 when he led Wright State in scoring and won Horizon League Newcomer of the Year honors, but he’s expected to come off the bench at Kentucky as a backup to Ryan Harrow and Archie Goodwin, the two projected starters in the backcourt. His high school coach, Joe Luce, thinks he would’ve been better off going somewhere else where he could start. He called UK “a bad fit” for the 6-foot-2 combo guard. Mays, though, saw Kentucky as the best fit for him because of the relationships and connections he has made with his coaches and teammates. Cal’s ability to put players in the league wasn’t the driving factor, surprisingly.
“It rebirthed a childhood dream,” Mays said of UK’s effect on his NBA potential. “But at the end of the day, I know not every guy can make it to the NBA. If I am blessed with the opportunity, I’ll be more than happy, but I feel like going places and building relationships, and having connections with Coach Cal and the staff, and building relationships with the other guys on the team, that’s the most important thing to me.”
Mays already had a pretty solid relationship with one of his new teammates before ever arriving in Lexington. He hosted Ryan Harrow on Harrow’s official visit to NC State. Now, the former Wolfpack players are two of the guys Calipari has called on to lead Kentucky to its second consecutive national title.
His experience at the college level, and that .424 three-point field goal percentage, will be valuable this season.
Watch KSR’s entire one-on-one interview with Julius Mays…
Other profiles: John Calipari