We continue our off-season updates by catching up with rising sophomore guard, Julius Mays. Last season, as a freshman, Mays averaged 4.7 pts and 1.9 assists per game. His playing time fluctuated throughout the season as NC State struggled to find a consistent floor general, however it was Mays that had the final word, dropping 18 and hitting pivotal shots down the stretch for the Pack in a losing effort to Maryland, in the ACC Tournament. Coach Lowe has continuously mentioned Mays when speaking on leadership of the 2009-2010 team. We asked Julius a little about himself, his off-season and the upcoming season. Here's what he had to say.
WPH: Julius, great season last year. I think it's safe to say we have a feel for who you are on the court, but can you tell us a little about yourself off the court?
Julius Mays: "Off the court I'm really chill. I don't do too much besides hanging out with my teammates. Basically, I go to school and class, I like watching movies, listening to music, nothing too crazy."
WPH: You didn't mention video games, but one common theme in these off-season interviews have been video games, and your name has been been mentioned quite a bit....are you a closet video game fanatic?
JM: "Haha, oh no, I mean those guys like video games to the extreme. I'll play sometimes but I don't spend all my time playing video games, no. "
WPH: Haha, ok I believe you. Now, let's talk about last year. You came into State from playing some top of the line high school basketball out there in Indiana. Do you feel you were totally prepared for the college game or would you say there were some things that you were not ready for?
JM: "It kind of tough to say you're ready for it. You don't really know what to expect, because you know everybody is going to be quick but I don't think I could say I was ready for it. Once I got out there I knew I wasn't ready. It's a lot different than high school basketball, everybody is stronger and everybody is quicker and the coach is expecting you to do different things...you really don't know what to expect when you first get out there. "
WPH: Tell us a little bit about last season. You started getting good minutes at the beginning of the season and it looked like you were on the verge of taking the point guard role, and then your minutes disappeared, only to come back at the end of the year and really control the game, hit some big shots and gain coaches trust in that Maryland game. Was last season a roller coaster ride for you?
JM: "Yeah it was a rocky road all year. At the beginning of the season I was getting some PT and my minutes were really picking up, and then they slowly decreased to the point where I didn't play in like 6 or 7 games. I really can't explain why I didn't play, but I really trust Coach Lowe. I wouldn't have come here if I didn't, so whatever he saw that I wasn't doing right, maybe he felt like sitting down for a while and gathering myself would help...and to be honest, it did help because I went out with a bang in the ACC Tournament and I want to just continue on where I left off. "
WPH: It was reported last year that your minutes increased because your team in practice didn't lose a game to the starters down the stretch. Is that something that you pointed out to him?
JM: "Haha well he knew that. The last 3 weeks of practice I wouldn't let my team lose. I mean, I'm not a guy that likes sitting on the bench and I was trying to do whatever it took to get back out there. I knew the ACC Tournament was coming and I knew it could be the last time we played or we could keep going, and I just wanted to be a part of it and so I decided to not let my team lose in practice and I got my opportunity in the ACC Tournament. "
WPH: We've heard from Coach Lowe and we talked to CJ recently and both of them said the same thing....the atmosphere in Raleigh is different, people are working harder, people are doing things on their own. Can you talk about that a little bit?
JM: "Yeah, I feel that way too. There is definitely a lot more seriousness in the weight room now. I think people are really ready to turn this thing around. I mean, we have a lot of people in here that are just all about winning. Nobody is about themselves and everybody is about the team. None of us like losing, and we've seen, in spurts last year, how good we could be but we let games slip away and we're just tired of that. We just really want to win games. "
WPH: Every time Coach Lowe has mentioned leadership of this team, he's mentioned you and CJ. You guys are only sophomores, but you're being looked to to lead an ACC team. What does that mean to you, to be called a leader of this team?
JM: "It means a lot. Coach tells me that he needs me to lead and that's what I'm going to do. I mean, it has to start somewhere, whether you're a freshman or sophomore, junior or senior. Your teammates need a guy to come to, to talk and I think CJ and I do a good job of that, on the court and off. "
WPH: Is there anything Coach has you working on in particular this off-season?
JM: "I've been really working on everything, all-around. I want to play a whole lot of minutes this year so I've been working on conditioning, strength, I'm shooting the ball 10 times better than I was. I'm constantly working on my shot, working on my speed and like I said, just working on everything. I want to do big things and I want to win this year.