No matter what happens in Phoenix, this season has already been a success for North Carolina. Luke Maye helped advance UNC to the Final Four for the second straight season — and an NCAA-record 20th time — thanks to his game-winning jump shot versus Kentucky. His improvement during his second season in Chapel Hill, however, did not come down to just one shot. We have the stats to back that up, too.
Maye carved out a role in 2016-17 amid a crowded frontcourt at North Carolina. That was possible because he was able to differentiate himself from fellow post players — Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley — as a floor-spacer. Maye offers shooting, and he brings it from a spot on the floor that rarely provides that skill in North Carolina’s offense.
Maye’s improvement as a shooter has been a serious boon for North Carolina, and it has manifested itself in more ways than just the game-winner against the Wildcats.
According to Synergy Sports, Maye has been one of the best pick-and-pop players in the nation. When he has set ball screens, he has popped out for a shot 72.7 percent of the time, as opposed to rolling or slipping. Maye shot 57.1 percent on this type of action and scored 1.5 points per possession. Of players to have at least 15 pick-and-pop possessions this season, that ranks No. 24 in the nation. It is the best figure in the ACC, too.
After attempting just seven three-pointers in 2015-16, Maye launched 1.2 as a sophomore. He connected on 41 percent of his triples, too, which is tops on North Carolina’s roster. On a team with Justin Jackson and Joel Berry — two of the best sharpshooters in the ACC — Maye is sixth on the team in true shooting percentage, according to KenPom.
Room for improvement
Maye is a solid offensive rebounder; per KenPom, he grabbed 12.9 percent of available offensive rebounds when on the floor. However, according to Synergy, Maye shot just 40.7 percent on putbacks following an offensive board. There are 35 ACC players this season who recorded at least 30 putback possessions. Among that group, Maye ranked 34th in field-goal percentage on putbacks.