His teammates told him, warned him even, that when the big moment came – One Shining Moment – Luke Maye needed to be ready. It wasn’t something he would let himself think about, even though he knew, win or lose, the shot the North Carolina forward hit to beat Kentucky was shining-moment worthy.
“They brought it up a couple times, but I just wanted to focus on tonight,” Maye said.
The team was together on stage, one net cut, the other still waiting, when the familiar strains of the song filled the giant stadium and heads pivoted to either end zone, where the scoreboards played the video. Roy Williams watched with his grandkids. Kennedy Meeks watched with an arm draped around Joel Berry.
And then, near the end, Malik Monk’s 3-pointer for Kentucky, followed by Maye’s jumper. His teammates all joined the fans in saying his name: “Luuuuuuuuuke!”
Then it was over, and the highlights moved on to the Final Four and, eventually, Justin Jackson’s dunk to seal the title.
But Maye had his One Shining Moment, officially.
“I had an idea,” Maye said. “But seeing myself up there, seeing myself with the team, being able to share the moment, that was really cool.”
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock