Julius Mays, the University of Kentucky basketball team’s starting guard this past season, recently reflected on his time spent in Middlesboro.
“I lived in Middlesboro most of the time during the ages of 4 to 6 years old,” said Mays. “After that, I would still spend most of my summers in Middlesboro, all the way up into my teenage years.”
Mays came to Middlesboro, along with his mother and four older sisters. Mays said his childhood years seemed to bounce like a basketball, going from Indiana to Middlesboro and then back again.
Mays never attended school in Middlesboro and never played on any organized teams in the area. However, he is quick to point out he played a lot of basketball on the courts at Middlesboro’s city parks.
“I have a lot of family from Middlesboro,” said Mays. “There are several aunts, cousins and a grandmother who have all lived in or still live in Middlesboro.”
When he was younger, Mays was particularly close to his Aunt Charlotte. He also mentioned his Aunt Ruby, both of which still live in Middlesboro. Furthermore, Mays thinks highly of his cousin Tonya who also lives in Middlesboro.
Mays has a collection of special memories attached to his time in Middlesboro.
“I loved attending the family reunions we’d have there,” said Mays. “I also got to do things in Middlesboro that I didn’t get to do in Indiana. Things like turtle hunting, fishing, and riding a skate board are all memories exclusive to growing up in Middlesboro.”
Mays was considered the senior member of last year’s UK basketball team. He was an elder statesman, so to speak. Last year’s team was loaded with youth and Mays became like an older brother to many of his teammates.
“Sometimes some of the players would approach me for advice, like I was their older brother or something,” said Mays. “Growing up as the youngest sibling, with four older sisters, I relished that role of older brother.”
Mays claims that getting to play for UK was a special opportunity that he didn’t take lightly.
“Playing at UK helped me become a better man, and a better leader,” said Mays. “I learned a lot.”
On playing for Coach John Calipari, Mays was complimentary and thankful. “Cal is more interested in you as a person than he is as a player and I respected him for that,” said Mays. “Cal is a strong family man. He’s a great guy and a great coach. Cal will also shoot straight with you and I liked that.”
Mays especially loved the opportunity to establish friendships and relationships with folks surrounding the UK basketball team. Of last year’s team, Mays was especially close with Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin, noting that they were always together.
Mays hasn’t been quiet when asked to comment on next year’s team. He offers advice to incoming players to “check your egos at the door.” He hopes they can keep their focus, take things one step at a time, forget individual ambitions somewhat so that they can commit to the team. For returning players, Mays urges them to gel together, accept the new guys and make it happen.
As for what’s next for Mays, he says he is taking things slowly and evaluating his options. He doesn’t discount the possibility of continuing to play basketball, saying there is the decision on whether or not to play in Europe.
For now, he is mostly committed to raising his baby daughter and enjoying life.
Reach Shane Pippin at 606-248-1010 ext. 204, email@example.com