The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 10th

Q&A with Luke Maye's high school basketball coach, Ben Beshears

North Carolina forward Luke Maye (32) holds up a piece of the net after UNC's win over Kentucky in the NCAA Elite Eight game in Memphis on Sunday.
Buy Photos North Carolina forward Luke Maye (32) holds up a piece of the net after UNC's win over Kentucky in the NCAA Elite Eight game in Memphis on Sunday.

Yesterday evening, Luke Maye etched his name in the Carolina basketball history book with a last-second jumper to beat Kentucky and send the Tar Heels to a record 20th Final Four. 

Now that it's been over 24 hours, UNC students' heart rates are finally starting to return to normal — but Luke Maye is still experiencing college basketball superstardom.

I mean, Luke can’t even get through a BUSI 101 class without going viral. Just let my man learn how to crunch some numbers. 

While Maye’s shot may(e) have surprised Tar Heel fans, there’s one person who knew all he needed was a chance. 

The man who showed him the ropes on the hardwood and taught him everything he knows — Ben Beshears, the former junior varsity basketball coach of Maye’s alma mater, William Amos Hough High School. 

Beshears was the head coach of the JV squad and an assistant on varsity during Maye’s junior season in 2014.

So was it the brows, the dance moves or simply the wisdom passed on from his former mentor that helped Luke sink the biggest shot of the Tar Heels’ season?

The Daily Tar Heel: How long have you known the Maye family?

Ben Beshears: I’ve known them for four or five years. They’re a good group. Luke’s mom used to do all of our books and stuff for the JV team. We see (his parents) Mark and Aimee all the time. They go to the same church we do. My wife works at the YMCA and she sees Mr. Maye all the time. He’s real humble. He always asks about us before we ask about him.

DTH: What was Luke like as a player in high school?

BB: When I was with the basketball program at Hough we took him to a couple big tournaments. We went to the Beach Ball Classic down in Myrtle Beach, which is probably the best high school tournament in the country. He won Most Outstanding Player there and set the tournament record for rebounds. There were some great players there in that tournament, too. Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen that play at Duke were there. But he stood out amongst that group, so we knew he was gonna be special, we knew he could compete. 

He was a quiet leader, wasn’t really a rah-rah yelling and screaming type of guy. He just went out and played. He was probably the smartest high school player I’ve seen as far as knowing the game and the opponents and the limits the other team had, so that was a plus. (Head coach) Coach Batts kind of let Luke lead the charge as far as the style that best fit the opponent. He wasn’t a guy that ever yelled or screamed at teammates. He was always very encouraging.

DTH: Was he a star or did he play JV for a few years first?

BB: He was varsity all four years. Hough was a new high school that had only had one year in existence at that point. When he was a freshman, him and Kennedy (Meeks) had some battles when Kennedy was a junior at West Charlotte. He got the best of Kennedy every time they played. It was strictly Luke’s understanding of leverage. It was pretty impressive how he could get 20 rebounds in a high school game, and he did it over and over again. His junior year in an overtime game against Vance he hit a deep three to put that game on ice when time was running out, so it’s not a shock to me that he hit that shot. It’s just that getting an opportunity was really all he needed.

DTH: He’s known for his work ethic at UNC — was this present at Hough?

BB: Oh yeah, those guys never stop working on stuff. It’s more about his family. Luke played baseball, too, so even in the offseason he would go after school and get his basketball workout in before baseball practice. After baseball games, he’d go into the locker room and get his basketball stuff on and get a workout with a trainer or whoever he was working out with. From 7 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night, that was his every day. He was the guy that went out on the track by himself and got his conditioning in so that he’d always be the most in-shape.

DTH: What did you think when he chose to commit to UNC as a walk-on over multiple scholarship offers from big time schools like Notre Dame, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech? 

BB: I got to see the heat of the recruiting process and it was a pretty interesting deal, because the coaches would come to our home games, especially his junior season before he committed. There was Carolina and there was everybody else, and Carolina gave him the least attention, because of the profile of the program. But there were ACC schools lined up to talk to him. The one constant was Davidson. But it became apparent that he was gonna wait it out because Carolina was his dream school. He grew up a Tar Heel, so it wasn’t shocking to me. 

A lot of people were kind of hard on him for going to North Carolina instead of going to Davidson because Coach (Bob) McKillop was in his backyard and he was at our gym every day. He broke a lot of hearts around here in the community for going to Carolina, but I think everybody’s gotten over that to let the kids do what they want to do. But he made it clear he was going to go to North Carolina, scholarship or no scholarship, and you’ve got to give him some credit for that. It shows a lot of character. 

DTH: Has there been any reaction or buzz around the school and community after Luke’s increased production in the tournament?

BB: Oh yeah, everybody’s really proud of the strides he’s taken. I’ve talked to a lot of the guys that I used to coach with and what not. To some people it’s been a surprise of how he’s come on late, especially during the tournament, but the guys that were close to him and knew him knew he just needed an opportunity. The community itself has been happy about his progression.

@zach_goins

swerve@dailytarheel.com

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