He’s “Just A Kid From Huntersville,” or so said the T-shirt he was wearing.
But Luke Maye is special to the community at Hough High, his alma mater. And now Maye will be a permanent part of the school history.
In a special ceremony Tuesday evening, school officials retired the No. 32 jersey that Maye wore for four years as a standout on the Hough basketball team. Maye, now a senior All-American with the North Carolina Tar Heels, said he was “deeply honored.”
“It means the world to me,” said Maye, the school’s all-time career scoring and rebound leader. “To come here and be honored by so many people who affected my life …”
In some ways, he said, things hadn’t changed. He wore his old Hough High athletic jacket Tuesday night, and he was introduced by his high school coach, Jason Grube, who still coaches the Huskies. And the honor came on a night when Hough was playing Vance.
“We had some great games with Vance,” Maye recalled.
But a lot has happened since Maye graduated in June 2015. He worked his way into the Tar Heel starting lineup and famously hit the winning shot against Kentucky in North Carolina’s run to the NCAA championship in 2017.
“Just to think … four years ago, I was a senior here,” he said. “And now I come back and have my number retired!”
On Tuesday night, Grube talked about college coaches asking him in 2015 if Maye “could play at the next level.”
“I always answered with three things,” Grube recalled. “He has heart. He is very hard-working – always working on his shot, always working in the classroom. And he can shoot. Being able to shoot will always carry you.”
Maye averaged nearly 21 points a game in his all-state senior season at Hough and is averaging 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds a contest this season for the Tar Heels. He is among the nation’s leading rebounders as a 6-8 power forward.
He said his Hough number was actually a left-over.
“As a freshman, I got the last pick of jerseys,” he recalled. “I decided I’d make the most of it.”
Many of his friends and most of Maye’s family were on hand Tuesday night, although younger brother Drake was playing with the Myers Park basketball team in a first-place showdown with Independence.
Mark Maye, Luke’s dad, said the family was very appreciative to the Hough community – including principal Laura Rosenbach, athletics director Masanori Toguchi, and Grube – for the honor.
“A lot of people were involved in this, and it’s really neat,” Mark Maye said. “The Hough High community has been good to us.”
Mark Maye knows a little about the uniform-retirement thing. The No. 14 he wore as an all-state quarterback at Independence High in the early 1980s was retired several years ago.
“It’s humbling,” he said. “I know Luke feels this is a real honor. He really appreciates it.”
Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle
Hough falls to Vance on Maye Day
Sweet 16 No. 11 Vance jumped all over Hough after the Luke Maye ceremony, leading by 14 after the first quarter. The Cougars ran off to a 73-49 win. Brandon Beidelman had 21 for the Cougars. Devyn O’Neal had 15 for Hough.
NO. 11 VANCE 73, HOUGH 49
Vance 18 12 25 18 -- 73
Hough 4 10 13 22 -- 49
VANCE 73 - Black 11, Vinson 6, Blake 3, Hart 2, Dixon 1, Hill 3, Beidleman 21, Ransom 7, Barnes 4, Sanford 6, Hodges 2, Saunds 7
Hough -- Devyn O’Neal 15, Chambers 9, Bissette 8, Worland 6, McCormick 3, Viruso 2, Shryock 2, Crawford 2, Riehl 2
Records: H 7-10 (1-6); V 14-3 (5-3)