Skylar Mays taken by the Atlanta Hawks in 2nd round of NBA Draft

Jonathan Mailhes

Two of Skylar Mays’ best virtues are work ethic and patience.

With the NBA Draft being held Thursday night almost five months later than usual because COVID-19 delayed the re-start of the 2019-20 NBA season, his work ethic kicked in gear and it gave him more time to improve.

Mays tapped into his patience as the former LSU guard had to wait to the second round before the Atlanta Hawks selected him as the No. 50th overall pick.

It was a huge moment for one of the finest student-athletes in LSU history, a home-grown Baton Rouge kid who this past season was named first-team All-SEC, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association player of the year, the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches major college player of the year, and winner of the SEC’s highest student-athlete honor the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Last season for the 21-win Tigers whose season got cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mays was LSU’s only player to start in all 31 of the team’s games, stretching his streak to 70 consecutive starts. He finished with 121 career starts in 129 games.

He averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals, compiled a team-best 27 double-figure scoring games (88 in his four-year career). He wound up final season producing nine of his top 10 career scoring performances including 30 points each vs. Utah State and Auburn.

He finished ranked tied for third in the SEC in steals average (1.8), seventh in field goal percentage (49.1%) and eighth in scoring. Mays is the only player in school LSU to score 1,600 points (1,617, 10th all-time), 400 rebounds (471), 300 assists (382, 8th all-time) and 200 steals (213, 6th all-time).

Mays ended his career in the top 10 at LSU in nine categories and was the fourth player in the SEC since 1992-93 to finish his career with at least 1,600 points-400 rebounds-300 assists and 200 steals. Mays is the only player in the SEC since 1992-93 to average in a season at least 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shoot 40 percent from three-point range in conference play.

“For the most part I’m at peace with it, I left everything out on the floor,” Mays told Tiger Rag assistant editor William Weathers after his career ended without getting a chance to play in the NCAA tournament for a second straight year.. “I feel like in my heart, I did all that I could for these past four years. I didn’t take the game for granted.

 “Obviously, you always want more. As a competitor you want to win the national championship every year, but things don’t go like that. As long as I can look in the mirror and say that I’ve put everything in me I had into this university, which was an easy thing to do after all of the opportunities it’s given me, I can sleep well at night.”

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Ron Higgins

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