With two scholarships open for next season but none for the season after that, Purdue is certainly in the market for a fifth-year transfer that wants to finish his career in the Big Ten. Brandon Wood and Sam Maniscalco did it last season, with Russell Wilson doing it at Wisconsin in football. According to GBI in a report hidden behind the Knucklehead Board, there is a quality target that is drawing some interest because he announced his intention to transfer today: Julius Mays.
I do have to qualify that Mays is a good player... for being an evil Marion Giant. Growing up, the Kokomo-Marion basketball rivalry was as important in my house as Purdue-Indiana, perhaps more so as I got closer to high school. The fact that my final game my senior year was a state tournament loss in overtime to Marion on our home floor against Zach Randolph has forever earned that school my wrath because, well, I am insane about these things. Mays, however, is a different player, and one that I remember being impressed with when I saw him play in person.
Back to Mays, however. Like Wood, Purdue would be his third stop at a Division I program. He played at North Carolina State for two seasons before transferring to Wright State, sitting out year three, and playing this past season. In his senior season at Marion he helped the Giants reach the state championship game before they lost 40-39 on a last second shot to Brownsburg with Julian Mavunga and Gordon Hayward. Hayward hit the game-winner after Mays dished an assist to give Marion a 39-38 lead. Mays had 21 points in that game in one assist.
Mays has experience playing in a major conference. He was a steady bench player in his two seasons with the Wolfpack. As a freshman he averaged 4.7 points in 15.1 minutes per game, while he dropped to 4.6 points in 18.5 minutes. At 6'2" 195 pounds he projects as a point guard, and his assist-to-turnover ratio was solid in his two ACC seasons. As a freshman he was 1.9:1.6 and was at 1.6:1.1 as a sophomore.
Playing in the Horizon League this past season was easier for him. He averaged 14.1 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 33.4 minutes. The turnovers also went up to 2.1, but he also averaged 1.4 steals per game. I do like that he could be a major asset when it comes to three-point shooting. The loss of Ryne Smith and John Hart leaves us with on D.J. Byrd as reliable three-point threat, but Mays was 50 of 118 for 42.4% last season from long range. He was 29.6% as a sophomore at NC State, but 13 of 29 as a freshman for 44.8%.
Wright State was definitely excited to get him involved:
He had a three-game stretch in late November - against Florida, North Florida and Charlotte - where he scored 21 points. Then came a concussion against Cincinnati. That knocked him out of the Ohio U game, too. Without Mays, the Raiders were crushed in each game.
Now he is back and he's averaged 21.6 points over the past five games. He leads the Raiders in scoring, assists, steals... and especially moxie.
Although Wright State fell to Butler, 63-62, in a back and forth struggle Friday night at the Nutter Center, Mays was the most impressive player on the court. He finished with 24 points and seven rebounds.
After Butler coach Brad Stevens and his praises:
"24 and 7 - it seemed like he made every play at the end....He's definitely on my short list for (Horizon League) Player of the Year. He's good. He's real good."
The same blog announced his transfer earlier today:
"I loved my time at WSU," Mays said. "The coaches made me better on and off the court. I will miss my teammates, but I have decided to pursue a playing career professionally or transfer to a BCS school for my final year of eligibility."
Mays, who is on schedule to graduate in June, averaged 14.1 points and 2.8 rebounds as he was named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and second team. If he chooses to transfer and does graduate, the Marion, IN native will have one year remaining and could play immediately, according to NCAA rules.
Mays seems to be a player that can definitely step in and fill a role immediately that won't interfere with the 2013-14 team. In the 2013-14 season we'll have Bryson Scott to help Ronnie Johnson, but with RJ as a true freshman next year we could definitely use the depth that Mays would offer at the point. His three-point shooting ability would also be a major asset. In losing Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson, Ryno, and Hart we lose 173 made three-pointers from last year of 284 we made. Hart and LewJack had only six each, but Ryno and Rob we're out top two three-point shooters. I also expected Hart could find a niche as the long-range shooter had he stayed.
I am sure this has drawn the interest of coach Painter, and Purdue has a unique combination of being close to home, being a big conference school, and being a team with a spot suited perfectly for him. With 41 steals last season it is clear he can play a little defense. He led the team in steals and assists, and being a player that reached the Indiana 4A state championship and played in the ACC for two seasons, he has the chops to play in the Big Ten.
If we can get him, he would be a major player that could likely start from day one and take some of the pressure off of Ronnie Johnson early on. Adding a playing with his experience is always a plus. Adding someone of his caliber, who can definitely make the 2012-13 Purdue team better, is worth going after.
The important question is, "How will he mesh with the current roster?" Wood meshed well at Michigan State and made them better. Maniscalco at Illinois wasn't quite the same story. Given that Byrd and Dru Anthrop would be the lone seniors, he would be in a leadership position, and given that there will be essentially five freshmen next year, that leadership could be essential.