In terms of North Carolina basketball legends, Tyler Hansbrough is near the top.
In four years with the Tar Heels, Hansbrough won just about every conceivable individual honor there is in the sport, plus a national championship. So it’s good news for UNC fans then, when he says he sees similaritiesbetween himself in one current Tar Heel.
“So far, I think Luke Maye has been our best player,” Hansbrough said via phone on Thursday. “I love watching Luke. I hate saying it, but he’s got a high motor. Everyone says I’ve got a high motor, and he’s got a high motor, but he does play every possession.”
The comparison makes sense from a physical standpoint and a statistical one. Maye, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior, is averages 19.9 points and 10.5 rebounds this season. In Hansbrough’s junior season, the 6-9, 250-pound forward averaged 22.6 points and 10.2 rebounds. Also, Maye’s 187 points through nine games is the most by a Tar Heel since Hansbrough’s senior season in 2008-2009, when he had 207.
But there are also differences between the players.
“I think he’s a little more impressive than I was at trailing and being a knock-down 3-point shooter,” Hansbrough said. “Jawad Williams, if you watch him, and Luke’s not as athletic as Jawad, but spreading the court and his shooting ability is kind of like that.”
Aside from Maye, Hansbrough has been especially impressed with two other Tar Heels.
“Joel Berry is very talented and can get very hot,” Hansbrough said, “so I think with Joel, Luke, and Theo (Pinson), I think that’s going to be our core. And if we can get some play from the young bigs coming up and having them step up... I think we’re going to be all right.”