When asked about the latest of Booker's accomplishments -- 15 points and 12 rebounds in a 67-57 victory over Georgia State on Sunday for his first collegiate double-double -- Mays shook his head in amazement.
"What didn't he do?" Mays said.
The answer was just about everything to help the Tigers (14-0) remain undefeated and off to their best start in 20 years.
Along with his points and career-best in rebounds, Booker had three blocks, two steals and an assist.
"He gets us going," said Mays, the team's second-leading scorer coming in who managed just nine points. "His presence there really means a lot to this team."
The 6-foot-7 Booker has started every game for the Tigers and he's as big a reason for the Tigers' success.
Mays says it's as much about Booker's energy and enthusiasm his ability.
The emotion showed when Georgia State (4-7) used a 10-4 run at the start of the second half to cut Clemson's lead to 31-29. Booker upped the team's intensity with two very big plays as Clemson (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP) responded with a 13-1 run.
Booker blocked Lance Perique's driving layup, and the Tigers came back down for K.C. Rivers' 3-pointer. Then, after Cliff Hammonds missed a shot in close, Booker thundered home a jam that excited his teammates and the sparse crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"I just try and come out with more energy," he said simply.
If he keeps it up, who knows how far the Tigers can go. They are three wins shy of the school's all-time best start when the 1986-87 team featuring Horace Grant opened 17-0.
The Panthers, though, made things uncomfortable for Clemson most of the game.
When Ron Larris hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 to go, Georgia State was within 62-55. After Deven Dickerson intercepted a baseball-style inbounds pass for the Panthers, Larris set up for another long-distance shot but Hammonds blocked it from behind. Rivers then converted an open shot as the Tigers regained control.
"When you turn the ball over and make a mistake at one end, you have to try and make a play at the other," Hammonds said of his block.
Rivers added 13 points for the Tigers, who open play in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Wednesday night at Florida State.
Rashad Chase led Georgia State with 16 points. Perique, the Panthers' leading scorer with a 15.8 average, was held to seven points.
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell was pleased with his team's preconference performance.
"We've played some ACC-caliber teams," Purnell said. "The difference is now we play them every night."
Clemson appeared to have the game in hand several times.
The Tigers closed the first half with a 21-7 run to take a 27-19 lead, but the Panthers opened the second half with a 10-4 run to get within a basket.
Booker and Rivers helped Clemson respond with a 13-1 run. Rivers had two 3-pointers, the first coming after Booker's powerful block of a layup by Perique. Booker then had a dunk and Rivers had another 3 to make it 44-30.
Dickerson scored inside to cut Clemson's lead to 48-42, but Booker came back with a three-point play. Booker's jam four minutes later put the Tigers ahead 59-48 with less than five minutes left, which seemed like a comfortable margin.
One last time, Georgia State closed in with Larris' 3-pointer.
"We had a couple of offensive possessions at the end of the game where Clemson had just turned it over, but we didn't execute," Georgia State coach Michael Perry said.
The Panthers have lost four of five, the defeats coming to Hofstra, Florida State, Iowa and the Tigers.
Booker is glad with his start, but he knows that Clemson will have to build on what it has done during ACC play.
"Some people still look at it as we're not a good team," Booker said. "We've got to keep working as hard as we have."