Luke Maye has made an instant impact on the Hough basketball team.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pound freshman has shown plenty of potential while leading the Huskies in scoring, with more than 15 points per game.
Maye said he’s thankful for the opportunity to start for the Huskies from the get-go.
“I was just glad to come in and be able to do whatever it takes to help my team win,” the 14-year-old said. “I wanted to do whatever I could to make this team the best it could be.”
Maye said that the transition from middle school basketball has been challenging, having to face faster, taller and more athletic players.
“It’s been a big adjustment,” said Maye. “I’ve tried to work on the way I play to keep improving my game.”
But for most of the season, it’s been nearly impossible to tell Maye is only a freshman.
He started his high school career by leading the Huskies to a 2-0 start, tallying 19 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in his Hough debut before following that up with 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks in the next game, against West Brunswick.
Hough basketball coach Justin Batts said he wasn’t surprised by Maye, having watched him play at Bailey Middle last winter.
“I was expecting exactly what I saw out of him coming out of the gate,” said Batts. “He’s somebody who can put the ball in the hole, who can rebound the basketball, who can alter shots.”
Maye comes from an athletic family. In the ‘80s, his father, Mark, was a starting quarterback at Independence High and North Carolina, while his mother, Aimee, was a former Mecklenburg County girls’ basketball player of the year at West Charlotte.
Maye began playing basketball when he was 4, although he didn’t start playing competitively until he got involved in AAU ball when he was 11. Maye said he’s always been taller than children his age, so he learned to use that to his advantage.
His growth spurt came in the summer between sixth and seventh grade, when, he said, he grew 4 inches to reach 6-foot-4.
Maye, who said he models his game after Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, has proficiently attacked the basket and taken men off the dribble all season long. And he has been able to convert on his mid- and long-range jumpers consistently.
Batts hopes to be able to get his big man with his back to the basket more often.
“He’s actually a pretty good post player, which is something he hasn’t done terribly much of for us,” said the second-year head coach.
Maye’s scoring ability has been a big boost for the second-year Hough program. He has put up 15 points or more in six of the team’s first 10 games.
Batts said that his Huskies have struggled to find a secondary scorer or somebody to take over when Maye, who has been the focus of opponents’ game plans as the season has developed, has a down game.
Maye struggled in his first three I-Meck contests, averaging only six points in the three Hough losses.
“As a freshman, that’s one of the things that comes with the territory a bit,” said Batts.
Drexler Clark, Jaqueaz Jackson, Ty Decker and Nick Daddio have all been contributors for the Huskies, but they’ve all had a hard time finding consistency.
Dropping seven of its eight games after its strong start, the team’s struggles derive from turning the ball over too often and playing poor defense, Batts said.
“We’re not playing to our potential,” said Batts. “It’s tough when you lose game after game to get back on the other side and start winning basketball games.”
Regardless of how the remainder of the season unfolds, Batts says he is excited to see how Maye develops as he gains experience.
“In the next couple of years, he’s going to progress and get a lot better,” said Batts.