"I knew him coming in from Five Star Camp because Loughlin was one of our programs," said Bergeron. "I was told that he would be perfect for us. I was told that I'd have to adjust the attitude a bit, but when I got down there, I never saw the attitude. I found a kid who was dying to reinvent himself."
To some degree, that is exactly what McDonald has done. Which is not to say that the 6-foot-1, 187 pound shooting guard and native of Brooklyn completely overhauled his game. Instead, with the encouragement of Bergeron, he has fully embraced the one skill that sets him apart: his shooting ability.
"My game has changed, but what coach wants me to do is shoot the ball," said McDonald. "Here my role is to shoot, and I can do that pretty well."
"I said to him, if you go ahead and keep shooting those threes, it's going to lead to a Division I scholarship," said Bergeron.
McDonald has always been an exceptional shooter, going back to his days in the CHSAA. Originally a member of the class of 2005 coming out of Bishop Loughlin, he was one of the city's top marksmen, and a player who was nearly automatic off of the catch.
After leaving Loughlin, McDonald enrolled at Rise Academy in Philadelphia in the fall of 2006. He spent half the year at Rise before transferring to American Christian. But basketball was shelved for the remainder of the year as he focused on schoolwork.
For Bergeron, he has been a revelation, so much so that the coach characterized his 5-for-12 shooting performance from behind the arc in a 110-91 win over South Kent at the Nike Super Six last weekend as "a bad shooting day." Accordingly, schools are beginning to catch on.
"He's blowing up," said Bergeron. "When I came here, he had nothing. Iowa State was really intrigued. Iowa State, St. Peter's, Fordham, are interested.
"Everybody's basically waiting on the SAT score. He'll pass, I'm confident of that. He's a smart kid. He just hasn't taken the test since his junior year."
It is pretty heady stuff for a kid who was marginally a scholarship player coming out of high school. Physically, the 19-year old has matured. He was a wispy wing shooter at Loughlin, and a shade under six feet. He has grown a couple of inches since then and has improved his upper body strength appreciably, out of necessity.
"It's better competition here than in regular high school because guys are bigger and stronger," said McDonald. "Going into the paint, guys are physically so much bigger in prep school than in the CHSAA."
He has also embraced what he does well. A few years back, McDonald appeared interested in transforming himself into a point guard. Now, he knows where he fits.
"If he wants to go to the high major level, he has to be a specialist," said Bergeron. "He's certainly a secondary ball handler at a lower level."