Maye withdraws from draft; returning to UNC for senior season

The 6-foot-8 forward will likely be the preseason ACC Player of the Year in 2018-19

Luke Maye will be conflicted if UNC ends up playing Florida for the college baseball national championship (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Luke Maye has tested the waters of the NBA Draft. Now he’s ready to return to the safe harbor of college to play his senior season at North Carolina.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced Thursday via his Instagram account that he is withdrawing his name from the draft to finish his career with the Tar Heels. His decision will likely make him the preseason favorite for ACC Player of the Year honors while greatly enhancing UNC’s chances of challenging for both conference and national championships.

“I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that I will face and there is no better group to do it with than my teammates and the Carolina family,” Maye wrote. “Time to finish the right way with two of the best players and leaders that I know! Let’s finish our legacy the right way!”

Maye was one of the most improved players in the nation last season, averaging 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting better than 43 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

The former walk-on posted 17 double-doubles and ranked second in the ACC in field goals and rebounding while earning first-team all-conference honors.

He will be one of three returning starters for the Tar Heels in 2018-19, joining forward Cameron Johnson and shooting guard Kenny Williams.

Maye is the latest UNC player to use the NBA Draft process as an opportunity to be evaluated before returning to school. Justin Jackson did it in 2016 and went on to become the ACC’s Player of the Year. Kennedy Meeks did the same and played an integral part in the Tar Heels’ national championship run.

Last year it was Theo Pinson that benefited from the evaluations he got from the NBA talent scouts, especially on the offensive end of the court.

Although Maye didn’t receive an invitation to the NBA’s predraft combine in Chicago, he did have workouts with several teams, including the Atlanta Hawks. He is allowed to return to school because he didn’t hire an agent after declaring for the draft.

“I have had a great experience learning from the NBA process and growing as a basketball player during the past couple weeks,” Maye wrote on his social media account. “I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for all of their support.”