Shortly after the public address announcer uttered the command sophomore Travis McKie dished out the punishment: 82-58 John Marshall over Thomas Jefferson.
Once one of Richmond's fiercest rivalries, McKie's 31 points turned the contest into nothing more than another game on the schedule. At the half McKie had 19 points, Thomas Jefferson could only muster 15.
Forget the statistics even though they were strong: 31 points, 12-for-14 from the field and 6 rebounds. You'd expect McKie, a young man with an excellent reputation in his area, to post statistics like those in a game of this nature. In fact, he's had a strong week scoring 26 and 32 in his previous games. What stands out is how he scored.
McKie's jump shot was "on" from the get go as he stroked a 3-pointer to begin the game. His shot and rotation are good and he's gaining confidence at the small forward position. Prior to this year he was cast more inside. At 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, he's a natural 3-man.
After making all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half, McKie chipped in with a pair of athletic tips at the rim and displayed a poised game. "It's a process and I want to continue on the pace; I'm still learning."
McKie sports a GPA over 3.0. He doesn't take classes at John Marshall but attends Richmond Community. Since the school doesn't have a basketball team and he lives in Marshall's zone, he's eligible to play for the Justices.
McKie's sophomore year got off to a rough start when the team went through tough times earlier in the year.
John Marshall lost a player when junior Tray Brown was shot and killed. "It was tough but it just made us stronger," McKie said. Brown's No. 3 jersey is draped over a chair on the bench in memory of the fallen player.
Schools are definitely taking notice of McKie. Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, North Carolina and Clemson have been in to see the sophomore. Maryland and Georgetown are also of interest.
McKie runs with the Boo Williams traveling team. As he gains strength and expands his game we anticipate him tracking at the high-major level and could be in for a breakout spring.
Our weekend road trip takes us to Norfolk on Saturday for the MLK Classic at the Ted Constant Center. Scheduled to participate is Tyreke Evans and Lance Stephenson. The prime time matchup features Scout.com's top junior Derrick Favors against Top 10 power forward Deshawn Painter.