No matter the situation you’re in, you need to make the most out of every day.
Whether I’m in the classroom or on the court, I’ve always viewed every new day as an opportunity to improve yourself and better the people around you.
And with this mentality, opportunities will open for you that you didn’t think possible.
For me, I’ve never been the most athletic or smartest kid, but I was always willing to put in the time to make up for the areas I lacked in. Not only did I put that effort in on the court, but my parents made sure I had the same dedication in the classroom as well.
That’s actually the reason I was attracted to being a Tar Heel in the first place.
Yes, my dad played football here and we have a historic basketball program that’s close to home, but what really got to me was the academics.
In Chapel Hill, I wouldn’t just have the opportunity to live out my dreams as a player, but as a student as well.
So even though I didn’t receive a scholarship until I was on campus for my first season, I knew the University of North Carolina would be my home.
With that first year, I also knew what my role would be as well. Once again, I wasn’t the most talented, but I could make our team better and learn from the guys ahead of me.
From Day 1, every practice became my biggest game, so I promised I would make every day count.
Listening to the advice of Coach McGrath, Davis, and Williams, all I tried to do was focus on getting the older guys better and learning as fast as possible.
Of course I made mistakes…..
But this allowed the coaching staff to start to trust me, something every player needs to make it on the court.
As a sophomore, I took on more of a responsibility on the team, but I still understood my role in helping guys get better.
With guys like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks, I tried to push them every day, hoping my efforts could help the team win games and prepare me for any opportunity.
Once we got into the tournament, everyone kept reminding me to stay on my game and that an opportunity might arise.
I knew we had the talent to make a deep run, so I just continued to put time in every day to make sure I would be ready for anything the team needed.
In our Elite 8 game against Kentucky, I finally found that opportunity.
As we got into that second half, I hated to see Isaiah in foul trouble and unable to play his usual minutes. But for me, this meant I would have a chance to help support the team and fill that role.
A lot of people want to point to the shot I hit with the clock running out, but for me, that shot came from so much more.
From Justin’s layup to the jump ball we won, this all added up to the work we had put in when no one was watching, making every practice count.
With the next two games and our team being named National Champions, this idea became even truer.
Yes, we had an amazing performance, but it all came from the mentality we had of making each day count in practice.
As the final seconds ran out on the clock and I rushed towards my teammates, we all realized that we had accomplished something special. And with my family being able to fly to Phoenix, including many members of my extended family, it was a night I’ll never forget.
So with this year, as some of our stars from last year have left and we received a new group of talented young players, I’m working on filling my role once again.
I may be asked to shoot a little more or play a few more minutes, but I know that my job is still to make the team better and keep us focused every day.
And for me, being a Tar Heel means making the most of every opportunity off the court too.
Whether it is helping bring smiles to kids at the local hospital with the help of Eric Montross, or just making sure I stay focused on the great challenge of our business school, I want to make sure I use every day as an opportunity to improve myself and our community.
So if you haven’t got your shot yet or feel like you can’t make a difference, try to use each day as a chance to improve yourself and the community around you.
With the little things you do each day, working to be the best person you can be, just watch what doors might open.
Luke Maye | Contributor