McGee Sets The Record Straight

A player destined to be among the most heavily recruited nationally in the 2005 class is Canyon Springs' Andre McGee, a former teammate and close friend of ASU's Tron Smith. As is often the case with blue chip recruits, McGee has been the subject of continuous gossip and speculation. In this exclusive DevilsDigest interview, Andre and his mother Jackie dispel some of these rumors, discuss the importance of academics, and give an early indication of where they stand in the recruiting process.

Andre McGee has never spoken to an NCAA Division I basketball coach about his recruitment. Coaches aren't allowed to telephone McGee or any other prospective recruits until spring of their respective junior year. Any contact, beyond letters and questionnaires, must be initiated from the players' side of the equation. In the case of Andre, or Dre as he is called by many close to him, this hasn't happened as of yet, and according to his family it probably won't in the near future. Still, rumors on topics ranging from his list of schools to his coaching preference have been speculated about on the World Wide Web on a regular basis for quite some time.

One of the most absurd rumors that came back to the McGee family was Andre's alleged preference of playing for an African-American coach at the collegiate level. And while Andre himself characterizes the rumor as "totally false" his mother Jackie McGee is willing to take it a step further, saying, "I heard that rumor and it is not true. It (originally) came back to us through one of our coaches and we were really offended because that is so untrue. It's not important if the coach is black or white or polka-dot."

Another rumor is that McGee is likely headed to North Carolina to play for Roy Williams if given the chance. While Andre admits, "they're definitely on my list," nothing has been decided. True, "when he was a youngster he did (want to go to North Carolina)" according to Jackie. "He was like 9 or 10 years old and he had a little North Carolina jersey that he'd put on. One thing I can tell you is that (right now) he is totally open to everybody." When asked if he even has a list of 10 or 15 schools, Andre says, "Nah, I couldn't even narrow it down like that. I wouldn't know where to start. I just don't have enough information yet."

When pressed about some of the top schools in the nation being reportedly interested in him, Andre truly does sound as though he's still in the early stages of the process. What does he think about top-notch programs like Duke and Arizona? "Yeah, you gotta be interested in them," Andre says. Well, what about Kansas? "Them too," he replies with a laugh. What about Stanford? After all, most people watching Andre play for the first time immediately notice the strong physical resemblance to former Cardinal star Brevin Knight. "From an academic standpoint, how could you not be interested (in Stanford)?" Andre asks rhetorically.

The interesting part is not the fact that McGee might be interested in Stanford, but that the Cardinal might be legitimately interested in him. Boasting a 3.5 grade point average filled with honors curriculum McGee is nearly as impressive in the classroom as he is on the court. Recently McGee took the SAT exam; while the results are still pending, a four digit score could be enough to garner serious early interest from Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, not to mention most of the other elite college programs in the nation.

Academics play a big role in the McGee household, and that point is stressed to Andre on a regular basis. Jackie underlines this point, saying, "We tell him all our time, just as we've done with our other sons; the big ‘G' is Grades, not the Game. We know [he] can play but can [he] qualify. And how well can he do in the classroom? That's what matters to us. He has some pretty tough classes. He's taking Algebra II honors, he already had Geometry and he has English honors. But he's doing well."

The third of three brothers, Andre is also going to be the third son of Anthony and Jackie McGee to receive a college basketball scholarship. All will have followed in the footsteps of their father, who played at Yavapai Junior College in Arizona before a two-year stint at Long Beach State in the mid-70's. Anthony II played at Eastern Washington before transferring to Cal Baptist, a school from which he graduated this year with a degree in kinesiology. Antoine, the middle sibling between Anthony II and Andre is on scholarship at Colorado and will likely be the staring point guard for a good Buffalo squad this coming season.

As a result of these experiences, the McGee family has an unusually thorough perspective of the recruiting process in particular and the college basketball world in general. They haven't missed the Adidas Big Time Tournament –held annually in Las Vegas - in nearly a decade. "I never miss the Big Time. It's so much fun and we've been going for the past 9 years." Most college coaches haven't gone for the past nine years. This is a game the McGee family knows inside and out. "I am a student of college basketball," says Jackie, "I have been watching the game of basketball for over 30 years. If you give me a choice between watching the NBA and watching college basketball, I'm going to watch college. It's more exciting."

Even with all of her experience Jackie is unable to get a strong read on her youngest child's future intentions, saying, "You know, we've tried to get him to pinpoint something and he's always like, ‘I don't know.' I do know Andre's status in terms of his basketball skills and that when it does come time for his active recruitment there's going to be a lot of recruiting going on and it's going to be very difficult. But I don't think that he's ready to discuss it yet. We try to ask, ‘How do you feel about this?' and ‘How do you feel about that?' and he doesn't really give an answer. So I leave him alone about it because I don't want him to feel pressured. But we have told him that this summer is very important and the following year we're going to have to get serious about it."

For now however, Andre is very clear on his near-term agenda. "I'm just trying to get ready for the (Adidas) ABCD camp and the Big Time. Those are the biggest things in the summer," McGee says. "Now that school is over I'll probably be getting up early, like 7 or 8 (o'clock), lifting, working with college guys playing pickup in the afternoon and then more individual workouts – so a total of three times a day. And what will he be trying to improve upon in his game? "Everything – ball-handling, shooting, getting quicker, leading a team, all of it."

At 5'11 and 170 pounds, McGee is a scoring type of lead guard. His favorite players, Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury are similar players stylistically. McGee is extremely quick and can play at different speeds. He's tremendously springy off the floor, with a standing vertical in excess of forty inches, and uses his athleticism to create space for his jump shot, which is almost like a set shot. The form on his shot also reminds quite a bit of the player he physically resembles – Brevin Knight. Extremely accurate out to the 25 feet, in a semi-final playoff game earlier this year McGee had 28 points by halftime due in large part to six consecutive made three point baskets. He's equally adept at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket.

No doubt he'll also be spending his final days of June working out with former high school and AAU teammate Tron Smith, a close friend for quite some time, and a player with a similar gym-rat mentality. "Me and him are together every single day," says Andre. The McGee family also knows current Sun Devil Jason Braxton extremely well, says Jackie. "Jason grew up with Antoine –our second son- and they used to play Ninja Turtles together when they were like 5, 6 years old. It's a real close group. So I watch all of the (ASU) games because I know Jason and now Tron too." Is it possible the Canyon Springs lineage could continue with a backcourt duo of McGee and Smith? "Yeah definitely (it's possible), our games' fit perfectly together," says Andre. Adding intrigue to the situation is the fact that a large percentage of Jackie McGee's family currently lives in the Phoenix area.

But for right now, all of that is relatively unimportant. The McGee family is content on making sure that Andre finishes his final two years of high school in solid position to fulfill his dreams, just as they've done with their other two sons. And they're proud, according to Jackie, who says, "We were very blessed to have children that were nice people. They're hard workers. My husband did a good job of raising his sons."

Hopefully someone will spread the word…

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