Much of the focus over the past few seasons come NBA Draft time has been on Kentucky underclassmen. However, Kentucky also has a developing trend of sending seniors, including DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller, to the NBA where they become solid contributors. Julius Mays is hoping to become next in line bolstering that trend.
Mays has been well-traveled in his college career, spending two years at North Carolina State, two years at Wright State (including sitting out a year after transferring), and using his last year of eligibility at powerhouse Kentucky. While the impression of player transferring multiple times is not always positive, Mays see it to be the complete opposite.
“Having the chance to play for three very different types of coaches and different styles of play helped me develop as both a player and a person,” said Mays. “Each situation was unique and made me learn different things. I used every opportunity as a learning situation.”
Finishing his career at Kentucky, while a huge opportunity, came with its own set of challenges, including having a rabid fan base and intense media scrutiny. “Not everyone can handle playing for Kentucky,” said Mays. “it was a unique situation for me being both a newcomer and older than the other players. People don’t realize how young these freshmen are and they are going to have bad games.”
Mays did see on huge advantage playing for Kentucky. “Playing for Coach Calipari, you get to learn a professional system to help you get prepared for the next level.”
In his one season at Kentucky, Mays averaged over 9 points and almost 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game while starting almost every game for a team dominated by freshmen.
With the NBA Draft less than a month away, Mays is now looking to show all that he has learned to the NBA scouts and executives, and he believes that he has plenty to offer. “My biggest strength is shooting the ball and being able to stretch defenses,” explained Mays. “I think I opened some eyes at the New Jersey Combine with my ability to play point guard.”
Mays has been working hard on other parts of his game to make sure he can make his best case to teams this month. “I’m still working on getting stronger and becoming more agile,” said Mays. “I’m quick, not fast, and I need to work on that to be able to defend at the NBA level.”
As mentioned earlier, Mays biggest opportunity so far came at the New Jersey Combine where 44 players had an opportunity to work out and scrimmage in front of representatives from all 30 NBA teams. “It was a great experience for me and I wanted to show that I was capable of playing with any of those guys,” said Mays. “It was great to showcase my abilities and just play my game.”
Mays also had some support there in New Jersey – Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari. “I have a great relationship with Coach Cal,” explained Mays. “He is looking out for me and supports me in all I do.”
Mays is hoping that all he has learned over the past 5 years will help him become the next Kentucky senior to get to the NBA. “I’m not flashy, but I am savvy and smart. I can play diverse roles, and most important, I have learned how to be a leader.”
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