It's been four years since Shaquille McKissic graduate from high school, but he still harbors Division 1 dreams. He's found a number one target in the form of West Virginia University, but still has a couple of more hurdles to clear in order to secure his final stop.
You have to go all the way back to 2008-09 season to find McKissic in a high school uniform. Playing for Kentridge High School in Seattle, he averaged 15.4 points per game and earned recognition as one of the top combo guards in the northwest. He signed with Northern Idaho, but never enrolled there, instead enrolling at Edmonds Community College in Lynwood, Wash. He played the 2009-10 season there, but then sat out the next two season for what he termed "family, personal and financial reasons".
Returning to campus in 2012, the more fully developed swingman turned in a powerful season, averaging 23 points and nine rebounds per game for the Tritons. That performance attracted the attention of several D-1 schools, but there was on which McKissic had his eye on the start.
"Really, it's Coach Huggs that I want to play for," he said when asked what has made West Virginia his top choice. "I grew up in Indiana, and watched the Big East, but Huggins is the type of coach I want to play for. There's no B.S.; he coaches you hard and gets the most out of you."
In order to make West Virginia his home, McKissic needs to complete five hours of coursework in his last period at Edmonds in order to get his degree. He has already sent his current transcripts on to West Virginia, and is awaiting final word on admissions.
There's also the question of remaining eligibility. While McKissic's five year clock did start with his enrollment in 2009, there are appeals for extraordinary circumstances that cause student athletes to withdraw from school, and the hope is that his case will allow him to play for two more years rather than just the one that a normal application of the eligibility clock will allow. Final word on that is anyone's guess, but McKissic is hopeful of a good outcome.
On the court, the powerful guard's game is built off the bounce.
"My offense has been a strength for me," he said. "I can take defenders off the dribble, and I can get to the basket and score. I get to the foul line too, and I think I'm a savvy scorer. I can put the ball up high off the glass, and I can go inside."
Playing against teams without a lot of big men in the post, McKissic also has the ability to back defenders down inside and score. While he knows that he wouldn't be able to do that with impunity in Division 1, he also thinks that would still be a part of his game.
"I watch the Big 12, and the players they have there, and I think I can still use my strength to my advantage," he said.
"He is a freak athlete," head coach Kyle Gray told the Everett Daily Herald . "He can shoot from the outside, but he likes to get up and attack the basket. ... He dunks a lot. In a typical game he'll get two or three, but in some games he'll get quite a few more. And they're powerful. It's like, get out of his way or you're going to end up on a poster.
For now, though, it's a matter of finishing up classes and waiting to hear the word from admissions and the NCAA.
"I've talked to West Virginia a lot over the past few weeks, but we don't have a timetable or anything like that," he said. "It's just waiting to hear at this point. But West Virginia is without a doubt my number one choice." He is, Gray said, "a"