“Some games I hit a shot early, in other games I’d just get a rebound or make a good pass. I’m just trying to go out there and help my team win as best I can.”
The 6-foot-9 Maye entered last weekend as a player who has had some good moments — including 15 rebounds against Florida State, 13 points at rival North Carolina State — but generally played to spell starters Kennedy Meeks or Isaiah Hicks up front.
Yet he had shown a soft shooting touch and the ability to pull defending big men out to the perimeter. And when Hicks got in early foul trouble against Butler in the Sweet 16, Maye became much more than a sub for the Tar Heels (31-7).
The guy who came in averaging 5.1 points in 13.8 minutes per game went for 16 points and 12 rebounds in the win against the Bulldogs.
Then, with Hicks struggling against the Wildcats in the Elite Eight, Maye scored 17 points — the last two coming on that jumper with 0.3 seconds left for the 75-73 win.
Maye made 12 of 19 shots and 5 of 8 3-pointers — 63 percent in both cases — during the two-game stop in Memphis, Tenn., to lift the South Region’s No. 1 seed to a record 20th Final Four to face Oregon on Saturday.
“When he sets a screen, most of the time (defenders) are hedging long,” Jackson said. “So whenever he pops, it’s hard for them to find him. So that’s huge. And then outside of that, because he’s a stretch-4 there’s much more room inside for the
guards to drive. .. So when he’s in there, I think that really helps us.”
Here’s a look at players who could emerge from the shadows this weekend in Phoenix:
Gonzaga: The West Region’s top seed has freshman Zach Collins, a 7-foot McDonald’s All-American, coming off the bench behind center Przemek Karnowski. Collins is averaging 9.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 65.4 percent, and he’s doing it in just 17.2 minutes per game entering the semifinals against South Carolina in a matchup of two first-time Final Four programs. Oregon: On a team led by Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey, 6-9 junior Jordan Bell is averaging 10.9 points and 8.6 rebounds. But after the Ducks lost shot-blocker Chris Boucher to a knee injury during the Pac-12
Tournament, Bell proved his ability to dominate inside by finishing with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in the Midwest Region final to help the Ducks beat No. 1 seed Kansas for their first Final Four since winning the 1939 NCAA title.
South Carolina: Rakym Felder is the “New York City point guard” coach Frank Martin says he wanted. The 5-10 freshman has started just once all year and plays 14.5 minutes per game, but has had some key production in the NCAA Tournament — most notably by tallying 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in the upset of No. 2 seed Duke in the East Region’s second round. Felder is shooting a teambest 43 percent from 3-point range while averaging 5.7 points entering the Gonzaga game. AP All-American team: Frank Mason III was a last-minute recruit for Kansas. He turned into the Jayhawks’ latest All-American.
The senior guard was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 AP All-America team Tuesday, receiving all first-team votes from the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25.
“I love the kid and I think he knows how I feel about him, but I’ve never been more proud — not that he’s won a postseason award — but he’s done everything that he’s supposed to do,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s been a great teammate, he’s been tough as nails, he’s worked his butt off, he’s loved by everyone in the academic departments, graduated, and to see him reap these benefits after putting in so much time is an unbelievable honor.”
The rest of the All-America team includes guards Josh Hart of Villanova and Lonzo Ball of UCLA, plus forwards Caleb Swanigan of Purdue and Justin Jackson of North Carolina. Votes were based on the regular season and conference tournaments.
Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 48.7 percent from 3-point range.
Hart, a senior who was key to Villanova’s 2016 national championship, averaged 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds. He received 62 first-team votes.
The sophomore Swanigan led the nation with 26 double-doubles, and freshman Ball already has declared for the NBA draft after averaging 14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.9 assists a game for the Bruins.
Jackson, a junior, averaged 18.1 points and 4.6 rebounds this season.
North Carolina sophomore Luke Maye was averaging just 5.1 points in 13.8 minutes per game, but had 17 points and the winning basket on Sunday.