Having decided to transfer from Wright State, Julius Mays did not jump at the chance to play for Kentucky. He had to be persuaded.
So when UK Coach John Calipari and assistant Orlando Antigua called to express interest earlier this year, Mays was inclined to say, thanks, but no thanks. He believed they were just looking to fill a uniform.
"Nah, I didn't think I wasn't good enough," Mays said in explaining his hesitancy about UK. "I just thought they had another powerhouse, and they just needed another body. I didn't want to go somewhere and just be another body."
Calipari and Antigua followed up by noting that Kentucky needed players, not bodies. Six Wildcats taken in the 2012 NBA Draft re-emphasized the point. The UK coaches noted "the big opportunity I had," Mays said. "I felt I couldn't (turn it down)."
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Mays, who led Wright State in scoring last season (14.1 ppg), acknowledged his surprise at the interest shown by major programs.
"I knew I was going to get some interest from some big schools, but I didn't think it was going to blow up as big as it did. So when schools started calling me and contracted me, I was kind of shocked. And I had to kind of take a step back and say, 'Hey, I'm going through the recruiting process again.'"
Schools that expressed interest included Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Arizona State.
In the recruiting process, Calipari noted how he prepared Mays for the possibility of a reserve role.
Mays, who played two seasons for North Carolina State before transferring to Wright State, did not seek a starring role. Mays accepted that scenario.
"Scoring role, starting role, I didn't care about that," Mays said. "I just wanted to win and have a part of it."
Assessing the Kentucky roster after the NBA Draft, Mays decided to come to UK.
"Seeing what we had coming in, I felt there was a fair opportunity," he said.
Mays anticipated his role as providing both intangibles (experience and leadership) and tangibles (shooting and scoring).
Although he made 42.4 percent of his three-point shots for Wright State last season, Mays balked at being typecast as a perimeter shooter.
"Everybody keeps defining me as just a shooter ... ," he said. "I don't feel like that's just who I am. I can score whether that's shooting or driving through or whatever. But I don't just define myself as a shooter.
"But if I am being yanked in and yanked out, I feel I'll be able to get in and have a good chance to make shots. That's just what I'm used to doing."