By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer
---- — AMES — For Indian Hills basketball fans that were waiting to see Jameel McKay playing major four-year college basketball, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that McKay won’t be playing at a four-year school this year.
The good news, however, is that when McKay returns to the floor, he will do so back in Iowa in Cyclone red and gold.
Despite a choice that will require him to miss the upcoming college basketball season, McKay made the announcement Tuesday night that he has chosen Iowa State as his new home to continue her career. The two-time NJCAA All-American former IHCC star announced over Twitter and officially to the Ames Tribune that he has verbally committed to join the Cyclones.
In a phone interview with the Tribune, McKay cited a long-standing relationship with Iowa State head men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg and his coaching staff, and the Cyclones’ up-tempo style of play as the reasons for choosing to attend ISU. McKay plans on enrolling at the school starting this spring, when the Cyclones will have a scholarship available to offer.
“The relationship I have with the coaching staff,” McKay told the Tribune was his reason for choosing Iowa State, which will mean that McKay won’t be eligible to play until after the 2014 fall semester.
McKay, a forward, had been recruited by Hoiberg during his time at Indian Hills. McKay instead opted for a return to his hometown of Milwaukee by choosing to attend Marquette last summer at the time McKay’s IHCC teammates Dustin Hogue and Richard Amardi signed with Hoiberg and the Cyclones.
McKay was at Marquette only a couple of months before a difference with Golden Eagles’ head coach Buzz Williams made McKay decide to transfer from the school.
“Just disagreements on things is as simple as I can put it,” McKay said about his decision to transfer, which was also based on where Williams envisioned the 6-8 power forward playing on the floor. “Playing out of position was a part of it. I wasn’t comfortable.”
Transfer rules mean that McKay will have to sit out a full year after he enrolls for the spring semester. That would make McKay eligible to play after the 2014 fall semester, leaving McKay eligible to play the final half of his junior season at Iowa State next year before playing a full senior year in 2015-16. Iowa State can also apply to the NCAA for a waiver to have McKay eligible earlier, however.
McKay was a major part of 59 wins in 67 games over two years at Indian Hills, earning a first-team NJCAA All-American honor while averaging a double-double for his Warrior career. McKay finished with 18.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2 blocks per game during his sophomore season.
Illinois, Indiana and Memphis also were on McKay’s radar before choosing to return to the state he called home for the past two years. Known for an up-tempo style that can produce points both by pushing the ball up court and creating extra opportunities on defense, Iowa State’s style of play under Hoiberg is similar to the system McKay thrived in under Barret Peery over his two years at IHCC, allowing McKay extra opportunities to crash the glass up court several times and produce easy baskets in the post.
Ironically, however, McKay choice to come to Iowa State comes after the school ran out of scholarships after bringing in another major transfer from a Division I school in Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane. That transfer took away a scholarship from McKay’s former IHCC teammate Amardi, who has since moved on to the University of Oregon. McKay will have pay his own way for the upcoming spring semester and plans on using the federal Pell grant as well as student loans to help with that cost.
McKay told the Ames Tribune that the ISU coaching staff envisions using him similarly to Royce White and Georges Niang, an inside-out athletic threat capable of “creating a mismatch problem.”
McKay joins Kane and former Northern Illinois standout Abdel Nader as players to transfer to Iowa State. Kane will look to become an immediate force this season while Nader and McKay both will have to sit out this season. Transfers have been a big help to Hoiberg, who has guided Iowa State to the third round of the NCAA Tournament each of the past two years thanks in large part to transfer players like White (Minnesota), Korie Lucious (Michigan State) and Will Clyburn (Utah).
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