How LSU guard Skylar Mays turned a tragedy into fuel for his dreams of being selected in the 2020 NBA draft


Andrew Lopezpen

Make no mistake, Skylar Mace wants to be selected in the first round of the 2020 design of the NBA. Just go to 44. Going to the square would be special in its own way.

Getting picked at 44 would be pretty cool, the USL guard said. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind.

Wade Simms wore the number 44 sweater to the Tigers. In fact, Simms has always worn size 16 – or at least since he and Mace were 12 or 13 – inseparable friends with special ties on and off the basketball court. It’s true that Simms was shot just before the 2018-19 season – and as the design approaches, Mace faces the biggest moment of his life without Simms.

I can remember something with Wade in almost every situation in my life, every day, said Maze. Grief is a strange thing.

Mace and Sims played together for two years in the LSU, where they were important rotary players, but neither was designed to be an NBA prospect. But in the last two years, when Maze was struggling with his friend’s death, he said he was directing his grief to the tribunal, which led to a dramatic jump in the convening committees.

Sky has always been a hard worker in everything he does, said USL coach Will Wade of Mace, who maintained a 4.01 average during his kinesiology specialization with an early focus on medicine. But I think [Simms’ death] gave it a little more meaning because he did it not only for himself, but also for others.

Currently, Mace is well established and is the second best prospect for ESPN’s Jonathan Givony to become the 46th president. far from where Mace was two years ago. And as he prepares to jump into the NBA draft (November 18, ESPN), his play is an eternal tribute.

It kept me more locked up at work, Maze was talking about losing Simms. I was just trying to imitate him.

MAYS AND SIMS met in 2006 in their hometown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while playing basketball in a league in a natural way.

It was always Wade and Skyler, Simms’ mother Faye said. For example, you haven’t seen Skyler without Wade or Wade without Skyler. I know it felt like Skyler was mine, and it still is.

They played AAU ball together and then met in the sixth grade of the University Laboratory School – K-12 School on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

Maze remembers the first noodles of Simms.

They were 11 years old and played the AAU tournament in Lafayette, an hour west of Baton Rouge.

Mace said it was a setback. I think that’s the only time you’re 11.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Wade Sims, left, and Skylar Mays were already in sixth grade teammates. Thanks to Skyler Mace.

A few years later, the Maze made up for lost time by getting his first kick up the ass in his first season in high school.

He was absorbed in the games, said Maze of Sims, who was two by two feet in the eighth grade. I could finally do it and say I can do something he can do, it was a great moment for me.

They took the university lab to several state championships before Mace began his graduation period at Findlay Prep in Nevada.

Maiz was a four-star recruiter with offers from all over the country, including UNLV, whose campus is just 10 miles from Findley. Some recruitment analysts thought that Mace’s decision heralded a future with the rebels, but in August, Mace made a commitment to the LSU. He found Sims, who had preferred LSU over other local schools in Louisiana two months earlier.

We were like yin and yang, Maze said. Everyone who has seen us play knows that we were at the top, that we played well, that we played together.

They had their first lost season together in the first year of LSU, but in the second season, under new coach Wade, they started to change everything. In preparation for the 2018-19 season LSU started the preseason twenty and expected something big.

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On the eve of the season’s first training session, Sims and his friends attended a fraternity party at a nearby southern university, while Mace stayed in his dorm room to study and prepare for the next morning’s training session.

Shortly after midnight on the 28th. In September 2018, a dispute broke out outside the party involving about eight people, including a friend of Sims. Simms came between his friend and Dieton Simpson, who allegedly responded to Simms by shooting him in the head. The meeting was filmed by several passers-by and the next day 20-year-old Simpson was arrested. He stays in jail and waits for his trial.

Maze began to receive an avalanche of text messages about the shooting around 2 a.m., most of which expressed my regret, before another LSU athlete finally called her to tell her what had happened.

Maze said I didn’t understand much after that.

The rest of Friday is reserved for Mace Mist. He remembers meeting with the team, but he doesn’t remember if they thought about what happened. Eventually Simms’ parents went back to campus to look for his dog, the Buddha.

I saw Miss Faye and she hugged me and said: This is my only child. He’s my only child, Mr. Maze said. It was a great success for us at the time. I was shocked before, but when Miss Faye kissed me… …it touched me.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Three days after his friend’s death, Mace appeared at Sims’ memorial service. Thanks to the LSU

Three days later, at a campus vigil in front of the Pete Marawicz Act Center, where the LSU holds its home games, Faye Sims asked Mace to speak.

Mace performed for 11 minutes in front of hundreds of people, including former LSU football coach Les Miles and athletes from almost every team on campus, with his coach nearby.

He was more reticent than I was, Wade said. I mean, there are people in their fifties who can’t do what he did. … It was just very, very powerful and it was something few people could do.

Maze calls and says he’s most scared, but he says it’s easy to talk about Wade.

You find powers in yourself that you didn’t know you had, he said.

LSU has dedicated the 2018-19 season to the memory of Sims. The school kept Sims’ locker – right behind the plexiglass – for the last two seasons before graduation. The Tigers wore a commemorative patch on their T-shirts and Maze threw a bracelet with Sims. number 44 when the LSU 2019 made a surprise ride at Sweet 16.

It just seemed like things were taking their course, and there was always something strange that some people attributed to the basketball gods, Maiz said. We all said Wade’s here to help us.

Fault! The file name is not specified. After the death of Sims, Mace started wearing a bracelet with the number 44. Chris Cowatta/Getty Pictures

Throughout the season, assistant coach Greg Hyar, who worked with Mays twice a day for almost three years, saw a player who was struggling but had a new attitude towards the game.

It was a turning point in my life, says Heyar, now an assistant coach in eastern Tennessee. It was focused before, but after [Simms’ death] it was focused on the laser.

Despite the fact that Mace’s excellent grade average and potential in the medical field were frequent topics of conversation at LSU shows, one day he sat down with Heyar and started talking about his future – not as a doctor, but as a professional basketball player.

After averaging 9.8 points per game for the first two seasons, Mace raised her youth average to 13.4 and eventually won second place in the All-SEC team. One year later he won 16.7 PPGs and received his first recognition as an All-SEC team and was named SEC Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.

This off-season Mace was working on his shooting with NBA guard Langston Galloway. After shooting 39.4 percent of a three-point distance as a senior, Maze showed an impressive performance on the NBA’s virtual drawing machine, which finished second in the three-point shooting exercise (76 percent) and eighth (70 percent) in endurance practice (five minutes straight at consecutive playing speeds of the three-point shooting exercise).

Some pictures of Skylar Mays LSU during combined shots and NBA endurance exercises. Mays took second place among the more than 40 participants we saw at the meeting.

– Jonathan Givoni (@DraftExpress) 6. November 2020.

The performance of the combination was a symbol of its improvement over the years. Maze scored only 32.8% with 3 points in a mediocre first season. When Wade took over as coach after this season, some people asked him if he intended to keep Maze. He mocked the thought because earlier this season he was impressed by Mace in the game in the Bahamas when he got off the bench and scored 14 points against WCU’s Wade.

When he sets a goal, academic or otherwise, he will do everything in his power to achieve it, Wade said. And that’s what he wanted to do in basketball.

Fault! The file name is not specified. – set


SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks with Kentucky Swimmer Asia Seidt and LSU Safety Officer Skylar Mays about the H-Fellowship award. Boyd McWhort Fellowship after graduation.

The 2019-20 season of SINCE LSU ended prematurely in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mace was preparing for recruitment in Baton Rouge, where he was surrounded by memories of his dead friend.

I let things happen naturally, he says. Some days are good. Sometimes the days are bad. But since Wade’s always so positive, I’d say most days are positive.

Mei often visits the grave of the Sims, sometimes meets Fei Sims, where they arrange flowers or sit chatting. Maze remains in close contact with Sims’ family, whom he encouraged to continue attending USL matches after Wade’s death.

It was Skylar who made me speak: Well, I have to sit here and watch the game, Faye Simms said. It even helped me go to games after Wade died. I knew I could support Skylar, love her and kiss her at the end of the games.

When the LSU is on the 9th. When Mace Faye won the SEC championship against Vanderbilt on 3 March 2019, he immediately found Faye in the stands and hugged her. After that he liked to watch Faye and her husband Wayne, who played at LSU from 1987 to 1991, climbing the stairs to cut a piece off the net.

It was great that they were part of something their son had so much influence on, said Maze.

He also wants to make sure that they are present at this important moment. He grew up with their son, shared those basketball dreams and said it would mean everything to have Faye and Wayne Simms at the design festival, which he could do in the short time between the design and the start of training camp on day 1. December.

And even though Wade Simms won’t be here, his memory will always be with Mace.

Wade knows I love him, Maze.

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