UNC’s Luke Maye describes his crazy week after toppling Kentucky

The 2017 NCAA tournament had lacked major late-game drama – until North Carolina’s Luke Maye changed that last Sunday afternoon. The sophomore forward from Huntersville, North Carolina, hit a game-winning jumper with just 0.3 seconds left to give the Tar Heels an 83-80 victory over Kentucky and carry them into their second consecutive Final Four.

The shot will forever live in Carolina lore, and it made Maye an unlikely March icon, something he is still coming to grips with less than a week later. His life hasn’t been the same since that bucket, and if he needed proof how different things would be going forward, it came early Monday morning.

Maye showed up for his normal 8 a.m. econ class and took his usual spot in the front row. But before he could get too comfortable, class was briefly halted – to give him a standing ovation.

“I was just going to class, just normal, 8 a.m.,” he said. “To go to class, have that ovation, it was cool to see how much people really care about myself and about our team.”

The soft-spoken Maye also admitted that the whole scene left him a tiny bit uncomfortable.

“I’m not really big on the attention and don’t really like when everyone is looking at me,” Maye said. “But at the end of the day it’s really nice to have that.”

Whatever was once “normal” for Maye will be anything but going forward.

He is reminded of that every time he looks down at his phone. It started ringing as soon as his shot went in and hasn’t really stopped ringing since. In total, Maye said he’s received several hundred text messages; he’s done his best to respond to each and every one, even if he hasn’t quite finished up just yet.

“It’s a lot of friends, it was a lot of random numbers who say ‘I got your number from somebody,’” Maye said.

“I’ve gained a couple more ‘friends’ from home,” he added with a laugh.

Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports

Of all the messages he’s received, the most notable came from none other than another March legend, Christian Laettner. It’s rare that Duke and Carolina guys can see eye-to-eye on much of anything, but Laettner couldn’t help but notice the parallels between the two shots.

A March game-winner from a player at a Tobacco Road school, wearing No. 32 against Kentucky? It was too sweet not to mention on social media.

“Yeah, that was pretty cool,” Maye said smiling. “I didn’t respond to him because I’m not really big on Twitter. But I definitely saw it and I wanted to thank him, and I’ll probably reach out to him soon to thank him for that.”

Despite all the hoopla, Maye is just about ready to put the shot behind him. He credited his parents – including his father, Mark, a former Tar Heels quarterback – with keeping him grounded. He also credited the Tar Heels’ coaching staff for helping turn the team’s attention to Oregon, which at 33-5 is more than capable of derailing North Carolina’s second straight trip to the national title game.

And if he needs a little humility, there are a couple people who don’t appear to be impressed at all by the shot: his three younger brothers.

“They have [teased me] a little bit,” he said. “They still joke around with me and mess with me.”

Even the most unexpected March icon isn’t immune to a little tough brotherly love.