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Julius Mays on UK experience, pressure on team, leadership and his smile

Julius Mays photo by Clay Jackson

Julius Mays photo by Clay Jackson


Question: How has the experience at Kentucky been so far compared to what you expected?
Mays: “Seeing it from the outside and then actually being a part of it you can’t actually find words to even explain it. You always heard about how crazy it was to play at Rupp Arena or how crazy the Kentucky fans were anywhere but until you experience it first hand I really had no idea it was as serious as it was. We have a great fan base. Win, lose or draw, they support us.”

Question: Has there been anything that has surprised you at all?
Mays: “Just really how big and how supportive our fan base is and how much they are behind us and want to see us be successful. When we lose, they hurt just as much as we do. That’s the most shocking thing to me.”

Question: Has it been hard adjusting to everybody knowing you?
Mays: “Other places people knew me, but here it is like a rock star. Everywhere you go, if one person spots you, it means about 15 or 20 more are going to spot you. You might be swamped with signing autographs or taking pictures, which is exciting. I am not a guy that minds anything like that. I like to do anything to make anyone’s day or put a smile on anyone’s face.

Question: Is there more pressure on this team to succeed than is fair or does the team put even more pressure on itself?
Mays: “My main thing coming into the season was that expectations are going to be high just because of what last year’s team did. But like I said from the very beginning, this team is totally different from last year’s team. It is a whole new team. It is different guys, so you can’t expect one team to do the same exact thing another team did.”

Question: You talked a lot in the preseason about being a leader. It seems like you are doing that by watching, but how do you feel you have done in that area?
Mays: “I wouldn’t call it hard. At some point at the beginning it was harder because I was still learning a lot myself playing under a new coach and there were things I didn’t know. It wasn’t really hard, but there were things that were hard to learn yourself and also teach young guys as well. But when you are on the court, there’s only so much a coach can do from the side so to have a guy like myself with experience on the court to be able to talk to guys is good.”

Question: Is it easy for you to talk to other players on the court?
Mays: “I haven’t always been vocal. I have been more of a guy to sit back, but coming in here I knew I was going to have to be more vocal. It is a thing that comes with age, maturity and experience and you become more comfortable doing it. That is what has made me more comfortable pulling young guys under my wings and talking to them a lot.”

Question: Do you ever have a time when there is not a smile on your face?
Mays: “Very rarely. I am always a guy that is smiling. There is not too much that brings me down unless something happens to my family. I enjoy life and like to show it, so I smile a lot. As far as I can remember and my mom always tells me that I have never stopped smiling for as long as she can remember, so I guess I have been like this my whole life. Full of energy and always trying to make other people laugh and bring the best out of them and get them to smile. I am always enjoying life so I like to pull that out of them.”

Question: Does that smile help on this team considering how many players seem to have trouble having fun during games?
Mays: “I think at times we forget to have fun with the thing we have enjoyed and loved for our whole lives. Not to say we are taking it too serious, but we don’t even enjoy the things we should enjoy. Me and Willie are guys who do enjoy it. We like to try and get everybody else to do the same. Ryan (Harrow) is also a guy who is always smiling. We all try to get that so everybody can feed off it and not be so down on themselves and enjoy it.”

Question: Finally since you wore a Cincinnati Reds hat after one game, are you a Reds fan?
Mays: “I am not really a fan of baseball. If I was going to be a fan of anybody’s, it would be the Yankees because all my family is from New York. I am not a Reds fan. I just like the hat.”

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    Mark me down as a HUGH fan of this young man…the “what’s not to like,” saying fits him like a glove.

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      His preference for the Yanks over the Reds. ;)

  2. Karen Sprinkle

    I think Julius has helped this team in a lot of ways that don’t always show up in the boxscore. You can see him during the games going over and putting an arm around the younger Cats and giving them a word of encouragement. I had to smile at his demeanor in the Auburn game when he was jumping up and down in front of Archie to get him to ease up after the hard foul on Alex. I am glad he seems to have found his shooting touch again, as we are going to need it (along with Kyle’s shooting touch).

  3. Kokomo Joe

    This is Mays’s third college team. No doubt he is a benefit to the team. My question though is this. Would UK be better off if we home grown our experience and cultivated role players like Mays here rather than cherry picking graduate students?

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