If the Tigers are to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time this century, Mays will be one of the main reasons why.
Your teammates have said they've noticed more maturity in you from last year. Would you agree with that?
Mays: "Yeah, I would agree. I was ineligible last year and I'm more focused on and off the court. I'm just ready to do the best I can for this team."
How difficult was it for you having to watch the team without you?
Mays: "That's one of the most difficult things an athlete can go through. After being an important part of the team and helping the team get to 11-0 start, but I couldn't stop watching or stop coming to the games to support my teammates. My team is like my family."
How tough was last year?
Mays: "It was real tough. But once again, I'm just happy to be back with the team. But it was a tough situation to deal with. But every chance I got, I was here supporting, talking and calling to each of the players. It was real tough."
Do you think you could have made a difference in some of the close losses last year?
Mays: "It's a lot of coulda-wouldas and stuff like that, but my teammates did a great job without me. And they did a great job with me. Of course, I probably could have been a factor, but I believe that every game they won, they won because they needed to win and they did everything they could to win. But in the close games that they lost, if I was there, we still could have lost."
What was your initial reaction when you found out you were suspended from school and were you surprised at all?
Mays: "Finding out that you're academically ineligible is a tough process and it hurts. I've just got to move on and think towards the future and prepare for this year."
You went to Greenville Tech, right?
Mays: "Yeah, I went to try and (keep my grades up) and get a couple of classes under my belt."
Do you think you let the program and school down last year and do you feel motivated to make up for lost time?
Mays: "Of course I feel like I made a mistake on my part with academics. I didn't study as much as I had and I was academically ineligible. I let a lot of people down. I let myself down, my coaching staff, my team, my family and everybody that was behind me. Of course, that gave me what I need to do good stuff this year."
Did you increase the work level of your workouts?
Mays: "I've been working out harder and trying to condition a little bit harder and trying to prepare to be the best athlete I can be this year. I'm trying to lead this team to one of the top programs in the nation."
Q&A with James Mays
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