Interview with Tom McKinney

<i>IC</i>'s David Thompson spoke with Tom McKinney, the head coach of Sean May's Bloomington North team.

Inside Carolina: How many years have you coached here, Coach McKinney?

Coach McKinney: I've coached 33 (years) and this is 15 years at Bloomington North.

IC: Coach McKinney, what does a person notice first about Sean's game?

McKinney: I think how well he shoots the ball. Now, in high school here, we post him up an awful lot, but he can also step out on the floor. He is as good a three-point shooter as we have. I just don't give him very many opportunities while he's still in high school but I think a year from now he can shoot the ball for North Carolina.

IC: What is the range on his shot right now?

McKinney: He can shoot the 3 very easily and he's a big strong kid and so he has no problem with that except that, just right now, his coach won't let him do it enough.

IC: What would you say that Sean's greatest strength as a basketball player is?

McKinney: I'd say right now his offensive game. He needs to work awfully hard on defense, but it also might be his rebounding. He averages 13 rebounds a game—a very good defensive rebounder. He does a very good job rebounding and getting the ball out.

IC: Have you seen improvements from last year to this year and over the summer? What's improved in his game?

McKinney: Probably his offense. Sometimes it's difficult to tell because, when you get into a team game and you change personnel…

Last year we counted on Sean to score a little bit more, and we've got a couple more scorers this year so we don't need to have him score as much. Last year he averaged 23.5 and now he's averaging 20 points and people might think he's down just a little bit, but he's not taking as many shots.

IC: In what ways does Sean provide leadership to the team as a senior?

McKinney: I think you provide leadership by what you do on the floor and Sean's a pretty good leader because he plays pretty hard out there. Now, he has a tremendous amount of potential that I think will really be tapped in the next couple of years, because he is a young senior. Also, he gets along with all the players on the team.

IC: Are you primarily using Sean at the 4 or are you also playing him at the 5?

McKinney: We post him up an awful lot, block-to-block, elbow-to-elbow, but sometimes on the fast break he has an opportunity to shoot a three. Most of the time, as far as high school ball, he's an inside player, but he can play facing the basket also.

IC: Do you play a run and jump game or do you utilize a half-court set offensive scheme?

McKinney: We want to run when we can and, because Sean's a pretty good defensive rebounder, we like to get the ball out. But we're definitely not a run and gun team. We're more of a half-court type.

IC: From your experience with kids at the high school level, what is your read on Sean's potential?

McKinney: I think it's difficult for a coach at the high school level to even predict potential. The college game is a little bit different. First of all, the floor is 10 feet longer. There's a shot clock and the players are all bigger and stronger. Certainly, he has great potential but we've had pretty good players.

We've had the Duany brothers [Kueth Duany – Syracuse Jr. G/F] and I had a very good player who started three years at Miami of Ohio by the name of Derek Frost, and Jarred Jeffries is starting at IU right now, but Sean obviously can play at North Carolina.

IC: What's Sean's height right now?

McKinney: I don't know. He's 6-8…he's so much taller than I am I just put down 6-8, same as I did a year ago. But he's a legitimate 6-8 without his shoes.

IC: What is Sean's weight?

McKinney: Sean came in too heavy. He started out, he was 280 and he's lost about 15 pounds. He's about 265 and probably by the end of the season he'll be 250. He's done it in the last month.

He had a couple of injuries this summer in AAU and earlier this fall and so he wasn't playing there for a while. And he's a big kid and he eats a lot and so he gained a little bit too much.

IC: How are Sean's injuries?

McKinney: He's just fine. He had sprained ankles and that type of things—normal kind of things but he's doing OK.

IC: Tell me about Sean's work ethic and how he is at practice—his coachability and that type of thing.

McKinney: Sean's a hard worker. One of the problems you get into is, if you have a player that is that good, it is tougher to challenge them in practice, and especially when you're playing them on the first string. And I know when we had the in-home visit with Coach Doherty and Sean's Dad [Scott May] was asking how they used to challenge Michael Jordan, and he said that Coach Smith would, a lot of times, put him on the second team in practice and then he would have to pick all the rest of those guys up. So there's different things we can do but he works pretty hard.

IC: Is he on a workout regime during the season?

McKinney: All of our kids are in a weight class and they lift three times a week during the school week.

IC: Could you comment on Sean's recruitment process and how you think that went, especially related to North Carolina?

McKinney: Every recruit you have is a little bit different. With the Duanys, both Mom and Dad had PhDs and they were very well schooled in the academics of schools and so they wanted to ask me a little bit about the basketball.

With the Mays, with Scott Sr. playing at IU and playing in the NBA, they understood all the different schools and so they went through most of the recruiting process themselves and I basically was there as an attendant.

IC: Sean has gotten a lot of acclaim and recognition. How are the other players handling his acclaim and what other players are recruited?

McKinney: We do. We have a junior, Mike Davis, whose Dad actually coaches at IU and Mike will be a Division I player but he's a junior right now. And we've got a little point guard by the name of Errek Suhr who'll be a Division I player but our players all get along and understand that, for this year, we've got an aircraft carrier and we need to get the ball into him.

Inside Carolina Top Stories