Keena Mays Quickly Making An Impact

Dec. 16, 2010

121610aaa_102_4414920.jpegAs a general rule there are going to be growing pains for any incoming freshman in a major college basketball program. For Kansas freshman guard Keena Mays, her learning curve seems to be less than the average newcomer.

“Her ceiling is really, really high,” said Jayhawk head coach Bonnie Henrickson. “She would even tell you, ‘I’m no where near where I feel like I can be.'”

Where the Arlington, Texas native has been thus far is quite impressive, averaging 9.6 points per game, 4.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 26.6 minutes of play.

“At first it was kind of overwhelming,” said Mays. “I knew I would have to step up to the plate when my name was called. With Angel (Goodrich) being out I knew the team was going to need me and I just had to play my role.”

With her teammate going down, Mays has played a pivotal role in a number of the Jayhawks nine victories thus far.

In back to back games over North Dakota State and Memphis during the BTI Tip-Off Classic at Allen Fieldhouse, Mays netted 13 and 12 points, respectively, with a total of 14 assists and 12 rebounds in the two games.

121610aaa_102_4387169.jpeg“Any way I can help my team out I love to do it,” said Mays. “Especially getting rebounds because my height is kind of deceiving. I love to get up there with Aishah (Sutherland). We always compete for the rebounds.”

“Keen has great play-making abilities,” said Henrickson. “She’s unselfish and she can knock down shots. When you can do all of those things and when you are unselfish and you want to share the ball, you become much harder to guard.”

While Mays continues to impress with her unselfish play, her cheering section at home and on the road made a big impact on her teammates during one trip to the Lone Star state earlier this season. That’s when a large group from Mays’ church back home bought tickets and made the short trip from Arlington to Dallas to cheer on their hometown hero when Kansas took on SMU in early December.

“I kind of knew what to expect before the game,” said Mays. “I don’t think anybody else knew what it was going to be like, but it was great because there wasn’t a home court advantage for SMU because I think we had more fans than they did.”

“Keena’s church bought over 300 tickets so they were definitely behind us,” said Henrickson. “Diara (Moore’s) family was there as well as Carolyn (Davis’) family from Houston. Monica (Engelman) and CeCe (Harper’s) family from San Antonio, so we were well represented in that area, but Keena won that one because she had so many people there for her and it was loud in support of the Jayhawks.”

Even though the dynamic freshman won’t have that kind of support in other tough road games this season, she does have the faith of her teammates and most importantly her coach, who is impressed with the growth she has seen from Mays.

“As she’s gotten all this experience in all these minutes, she’s grown up a lot,” said Henrickson. “She’s made good decisions and she’s tried to understand how to control the flow and tempo, which is hard when you’re just trying to get your head out of the water in your first few games.”

If Mays’ next 10 games go anything like her first 10 in a Jayhawk uniform, Kansas is in good hands.