Friday night, one of the best players in Mecklenburg County history ended his career. Another player, who appears to have the ability to reach the same level, appeared to be just beginning his.
Hough High upset West Charlotte 61-52 and McDonalds All-American Kennedy Meeks walked off the court in the final seconds and emotionally embraced coach Baronton Terry. Over a four-year career, Meeks, a 6-10 center, led the Lions to three straight N.C. 4A Western Regional championship games, the 2011 N.C. 4A state championship and a 2012 N.C. 4A runner-up finish. Friday night, he finished with 12 points, five rebounds, two blocks, two steals and one win short of a fourth straight regional appearance.
As Meeks walked off the floor for the final time, Hough 6-7, 225-pound sophomore Luke Maye walked to the free throw line. It looked and felt like a changing of the guard. Maye was polishing off a 19-point, 14-rebound, three-assist performance that showed plenty of ability for right now, but it also made you wonder just how good he could be tomorrow.
The son of former Independence High star Mark Maye once an all-state track athlete, an All-America quarterback and an all-state basketball player in the early 80s Luke Maye possesses incredible size.
But hes also got perimeter ball skills and a jump shot, one that has absolutely perfect rotation, that most guards around here would be envious of.
Maye didnt particularly shoot it well from outside against West Charlotte, but he made 5-of-8 three-point shots in the second round against McDowell Wednesday when he finished with 28 points and 27 rebounds.
And no, thats not a typo.
Hes 6-7, 225, Hough coach Justin Batts said, but hes only 15. He doesnt turn 16 until next month. Hes young for his grade. For him to be able to take six dribbles and go coast-to-coast, with confidence, thats special for someone his size. Then having the versatility to be able to defend people (near the basket) is a big deal.
Maye is the spitting image of his father, who played quarterback at North Carolina, and he impressed Meeks, who will play basketball for the Tar Heels next season.
Oh man, Meeks said, the skys the limit for him. He played well. He demanded the ball and he shot it well and he was a presence on defense. Hes got a bright future.
Maye began the game with his teams first three field goals, all off offensive rebounds. He would guard Meeks or much smaller Lions, and he even helped with a little ballhandling on offense.
Whatever Hough needed, Maye was there to give it to them.
Maye said he has scholarship offers from College of Charleston, Charlotte, Davidson and Richmond. Id be shocked if that number didnt grow, and didnt grow exponentially, over the next 12 months.
This kid can really, really play.
Ive always been one of the better players, he said, matter-of-factly, outside his teams locker room, and Ive kept working to try to improve my game for the future. My Dad and I work a lot. We do a lot of shooting and post-up moves. He just tells me to go out there and play hard and everything will work out.