A family tradition is set to continue at the University of South Carolina, where Irmo’s Justin McKie has committed to play basketball after his 2013 graduation.
McKie, a 6-foot-3 guard who was a part of the Yellow Jackets’ 2010-11 championship run and helped Irmo to the third round in last season’s Class 4A tournament, is the son of former Gamecock star BJ McKie.
But Justin McKie said it was the possibilities for his future with coach Frank Martin and the Gamecocks — not his father’s history with the program — that shaped his decision.
“The fact that he has gotten in, and in a short period of time gotten so much done is just a testament to how hard he works at recruiting and how hard he will work with this team,” McKie said. “He will praise you when you do well and push you when struggle, and that’s how I was brought up in my family. And that is why I feel I would do well in that environment.”
That is exactly how BJ McKie hoped his son would approach the decision.
“Justin has Carolina in his blood. He grew up loving Carolina, but I wanted him to go into the recruiting process with a clear head and look at what was best for him,” he said.
Irmo coach Tim Whipple was elated with the decision.
“I love my kids and it’s hard when they do graduate, and what better possible situation for me to be able to watch him play than to have him 10 miles away. So, I’m thrilled,” Whipple said.
Justin McKie is looking forward to his whole family being able to watch him play for another four years, and he was so pleased with his decision that he wanted to announce it immediately.
“It’s just the natural way I felt. Talking to my dad, he asked me where I was leaning and that was South Carolina. And then on the official visit, I really confirmed that. Knowing that, I didn’t feel like I needed to keep it in anymore,” he said.
McKie is as happy as he is proud.
“My time is past. Justin might be following in my footsteps but he is making his own way,” BJ McKie said.
“I’m just looking forward to my son playing Division 1 basketball, and I’m happy that’s it’s my alma mater that he chose. I’m extremely proud of where my son has come as a young man and where he’s headed.”
Reach Nelson at (803) 771-8419