It’s the day before what would have been Wayde Sims’ 22nd birthday, and Skylar Mays is reflecting on his fallen best friend.
“I’ve known him basically since diapers, so he’s always been a huge part of me and will always continue to be a huge part of me,” Mays says.
The two friends grew up playing basketball together, a tradition that continued when they joined the team at LSU. After Sims was murdered in the fall of 2018, Mays emerged as a leader who helped the basketball team cope and rebuild.
“I try to be a glue guy, the guy that keeps everybody together,” Mays says. “I knew I definitely had to take on a bigger role, and the biggest thing was just continuing to play together, playing for each other.”
That playing-for-each-other, unselfish-basketball mentality led LSU to a Sweet 16 season and an SEC regular season championship—the team’s first title since 2009.
As guard, Mays was a key player, and the only team member to start in all 35 games. He averaged 2.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 13.4 points per game. He was second in the league in both steals and free throw percentage.
Last spring, Mays briefly considered leaving LSU for the NBA. But he withdrew his name from the draft in time to retain his college eligibility—solidifying his senior season as a Tiger.
And so, on a morning a few weeks before Christmas, he’s dressed in his practice gear, just wrapping up a morning practice session. The pre-med, honor-roll student is coming off a busy week of finals, but he’s calm and collected—and as optimistic as ever about what’s to come.
Asked if he feels any pressure about his senior year, Mays answers simply: “Yeah. But pressure makes diamonds.” lsusports.net
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