Along with several sophomores, they had almost instantly returned the proud North Carolina basketball program to greatness. May was on a roll and his confidence seemed to be growing with every minute he played.
"It wasn't hard for me at all, because if I messed up, someone was there to take my place," May told Inside Carolina on Thursday. "I just went with the flow and did not worry about if I messed up. I would just keep playing."
But then May went down, and the Tar Heels were hardly the same team.
The Bloomington, Ind. native suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot during practice in early December. Then, during the Tar Heels' 65-56 loss to Iona on Dec. 27, the fracture broke completely.
May missed the next two months following surgery.
He would return to play about 10 minutes against Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinal, but he did not look like the same player that had helped solidify Carolina's frontcourt in the early stages of the season.
"That allowed me to grow a lot," May said. "Then, once I went down with my injury, I kind of took three steps back."
"When I came back [against Duke], I felt I could play, but I wasn't 100 percent. It's different practicing and going out in playing in the game. It was a weird experience. It might not have been the best decision, but I did it and learned from it. However, if I were in the same situation, I probably wouldn't have done it."
He averaged 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in the 10 games that he did play in.
May is back now and ready to embark on his sophomore campaign. He said his foot has completely healed and he is stronger and in the best shape of his career.
"I'm 110-percent – the best I've been ever," he said. "I'm healthy and going hard everyday and I feel real good.
"Personally, I'm really excited after sitting out last year and missing the majority of the games. I'm anxious to get back playing. And the fact that we have a great new coaching staff that just came from the Final Four...we're all real excited about what is to come in the future.
"Right now, our main focus is just on getting stronger in the weight room, getting in shape and getting ready for October. Basketball-wise, I've learned a lot more. I'm just able to play now and not worry about anything."
The Tar Heels start practice on Oct. 18 and open the 2003-04 season Nov. 22 at home against Old Dominion.