Irmo High standout Justin McKie has big shoes to fill, but he's up to the task.
Son of former Gamecock great B.J. McKie, Justin has pledged to follow in his father's footsteps at South Carolina by committing to Frank Martin early Monday morning after the conclusion of his official visit over the weekend.
"After being around the coaches and team, I felt like it was the right thing to do," McKie said of the commitment, "especially since it's where my dad played."
Martin began recruiting McKie over the summer soon after becoming the coach at South Carolina, a relationship that blossomed for the hometown kid.
"When (Martin) came in, he started to look at me," the 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard said. "I first initially met him face to face in early June. I could tell that it was a good relationship. He's an honest man and a good coach. He made me feel like I belong at South Carolina, and I felt like he wanted me there.
"Coach Martin is a guy who plays a lot of guards, and he likes big guards. He allows guys to come in and earn playing time, and that's what I hope to do."
McKie, who chose South Carolina over Murray State, grew up in Columbia, so he's seen the team go through the ups and downs first-hand. He understands the pressure that comes with being there, but he's up to the challenge.
"I've never been one to be sucked in by the pressure and what have you. It's exciting for me more than pressure," he said. "Hopefully I can make my friends proud, my family proud and my hometown proud. And hopefully, that will be something special."
McKie attended South Carolina's big football win over then No. 5 Georgia. The atmosphere only solidified what he has always had in his heart — a choice that led him to follow in his father's footsteps.
"I went back and talked about it with my dad, my mom and my stepmom and my grandparents, and I really felt like this was the best situation," he said. "I'm big on family. One thing I've always wanted my family to do is have a chance for them to watch me play basketball at that level.
"Growing up, Carolina has always been in my blood. This program has always been dear to me and close to me. I remember going to the games when they had a lot of success, and I want to get them back to that point. I know coach Martin is going to coach us hard to try to get us to win some games."
There had been some rumblings that South Carolina could possibly red-shirt McKie for his freshman year, but according to him, that's not the case.
"There's no talks of me sitting out a year," he said. "Coach Martin is a guy that if you play hard, you'll play, and that's what I plan to do."
Playing hard will definitely be what McKie needs to do if he plans to be the player his dad was for the Garnet and Black. In 1999, B.J. McKie, who also attended Irmo High, became the all-time leading scorer in South Carolina history.
"I don't feel any pressure," Justin said. "My dad was a great player at USC, but now it's time for me to show what I can do. He worked hard to get his number in the rafters. I'm going to try and build my own legacy."
McKie becomes the third player of the 2013 class for the Gamecocks, joining five-star wing Sindarius Thornwell and three-star big Desmond Ringer.
McKie commits to South Carolina
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