McKay, a Milwaukee native, said being back in his hometown near family was also a major factor in his decision. He said, “Nobody is getting any younger and to have the opportunity to have my family see my play during my final two years was very important.”
Indiana had scouted McKay, an All-American last season at Indian Hills, heavily in April and offered a scholarship on April 18.
But given their high interest in BeeJay Anya and Marcus Lee and four verbal commitments already secured, it’s unclear how hard the Hoosiers had been recruiting McKay in recent weeks.
McKay will be one of the top returning frontcourt player in the JUCO ranks following his freshman season where he averaged 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
With the first weekend of the April evaluation in the books, changes are abound on the 2013 recruiting board. There’s a new name at the top, a new west coast prospect emerging and a long-standing name takes a tumble.
Over the last month, Indiana has been tracking Indian Hills C.C. (IA) forward Jameel McKay closely and the Hoosiers offered a scholarship to the JUCO All-American after a workout last week. It was Indiana’s second trip to watch McKay in less than a week.
Inside the Hall talked at length with McKay about his interest in the IU program, his thoughts on Tom Crean, his evolving game, his recruitment and much more:
On what Indiana believes he can bring to the program:
“Right now they’re interested in me coming in and playing right away. Bringing the same type of game play that I bring right now to my team and help bring another banner to the program.”
On his familiarity with Crean from his time at Marquette and how that factors in to his interest:
“It’s a big factor. When I was younger, I used to go to a lot of Marquette games. I know the way he lets his players play. I watched Indiana a couple of times this year, like four or five times, and I liked the players they had and the way he let the players play. He helps make players their best.”
On how he viewed the resurgence of the Indiana program this past season:
“He [Coach Crean] had to have a good vision. Because he left Marquette at a point where Marquette was really good. They had some good players returning. It just takes a process when you’re trying to start over with a new program. He got players to listen and got some of the players he wanted. This year he’s got one of the top recruiting classes coming in so Indiana’s back.”
On the strengths of his game:
“My strength is when I’m facing up with the ball. I can play multiple positions and I bring a lot of energy to the game. I’m very versatile and can score in different ways. I’m a very good offensive rebounder. I got a nose for where the ball is going to go off of rebounds.”
On what makes a great offensive rebounder:
“As long as you go [to the glass], you’re going to get rebounds. As long as you go. Everybody doesn’t go. It’s so hard to keep a box out and keep a body on somebody at all times. I figure if I just go, I can get a lot [of rebounds]. A lot of times I just go with my length.”
On areas of improvement for his game:
“Last year I guarded every position on the court. It was mostly point guards because I was on top of the press. I think that’s why a lot of schools like me because I can guard multiple positions. This year I played well against point guards. I want to get my off-the-ball defense a lot better and my on-the-ball defense a lot better. I’m still developing that. And just getting stronger. This past year the biggest difference for me was strength. I still had a good year, but I’ve just gotta get stronger. I know if I get stronger, the game will become a lot easier.”
As one of just three freshman to be named as a first team NJCAA All-American selection this past season, Indian Hills Community College forward Jameel McKay has established himself as a recruiting priority for several high major programs.
McKay is arguably the top returning frontcourt player in the JUCO ranks following his first collegiate season where he averaged 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
“Jameel’s a face-up forward. He’s got a great nose for the basketball,” Indian Hills assistant coach Jason Skinkis told Inside the Hall. “He’s a great offensive rebounder. As far as offensive rebounding, he’s probably the best in the country in junior college.”
The Milwaukee (WI) native, who was originally a member of the 2011 class, went the junior college route for academic reasons. He now has a healthy grade point average and is expected to enroll at a Division I school for the 2013-2014 season with two years of eligibility.
Indiana offered the 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward a scholarship earlier this week after watching him workout for the second time in a week.
Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette, Memphis and Missouri are also recruiting the Indian Hills forward.
Skinkis said McKay’s familiarity with Tom Crean from his time at Marquette coupled with the resurgence of the IU program has the All-American intrigued with the Hoosiers.
“They’ve got one of the best recruiting classes in the country obviously and Indiana’s name as well,” the Indian Hills assistant said of the reasons for McKay’s high level of interest in Indiana. “With him being from Milwaukee, I think Crean definitely catches his eye.”
Despite the accolades and attention he received as a freshman, there’s still plenty of room for McKay to grow.
As first reported by Dave Spahn of Slam Magazine, Indiana has offered a scholarship to 2013 Indian Hills Community College forward Jameel McKay after watching him work out today for the second time in a week.