Hilltop Heroes: Keena Mays
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 23:01
If you have been following SMU women’s basketball in any capacity this semester, you have heard the name Keena Mays. To the casual fan her emergence has been sudden and unexpected.
The Lady Mustangs were 6-2 before Mays became eligible. Many who weren’t aware of how Mays came to SMU weren’t sure why she wasn’t eligible to begin with. After a little research one finds that May transferred from Kansas in the middle of her sophomore year.
As a result of the transfer Mays had to sit out a year, meaning she would become eligible over winter break.
“I knew that was going to be part of the process,” Mays said. “It was just a matter of becoming a better player and teammate during that time. I used it to work on my individual game.”
Once she became eligible, Mays returned to the court with a vengeance. She quickly earned C-USA player of the week twice.
“I was a little concerned about the game speed,” Mays said. “But I tried to keep myself in shape and I was in the gym a lot. It kind of took me a couple of games to get back into the rhythm of things but it came back.”
“We knew what kind of Player she was,” Head Coach Rhonda Rompola said. “She ups the level of everyone’s game.”
At Kansas Mays made 13 starts and played in all 34 games. She averaged 7.1 points and 3.0 rebounds a game. She was second on the team with 119 assists- averaging 3.5 per game.
Mays is from Arlington and a successful high school career. Mays led Mansfield Timberview to the 4A State championship her junior and senior year and was a three-time All-State selection by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.
What’s the best thing about Mays?
“She’s not worried about Stats or honors,” Rampola said.”She is very humble, and probably the most unselfish players that you can have.”
When a player has the amount of success that Mays has, they are often thrust into a leadership role.
“Keena may not be the most vocal leader but she does it in her own way,” said Rampola.
“Alisha [Filmore] is definitely the vocal leader,” Mays said. “Next year I’ll have to step up with her being gone. I’m learning a lot from her and hopefully I can follow in her footsteps next year.”
In her 10 games this year, Mays has averaged 20.3 points per game, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. She has shot 45 percent from the field and from three- point range. How could a step in after a year off and have such a high offensive output? It helps when you have had a basketball in your hands before you were in kindergarten.
“From as early as I can remember I have always had a basketball in my hand,” Mays said. “I started playing on a team since I was four. I grew up playing basketball, my mom played in college and high school. I played other sports when I was younger, and as I grew older it just became my main focus.”
For Mays, basketball is life. Even when she is supposed to be resting she finds her way back into the gym.
“We obviously don’t get to do a whole lot of relaxing time,” she said. “I like to come to the gym to relax- like if I’m having a bad day I’ll come up here and shoot. “
Outside of basketball, May’s passion is English. She is an English major with a minor in education.
“Out of all the subjects [English] has been my favorite,” Mays said. “I have had a few really good English teachers and I guess I want to continue the legacy of good English teachers.”