Soft spoken McGee a big catch
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – JaVale McGee has never been a big talker in his two years at Nevada, and he didn’t have much to say in his final press conference as a college player.
McGee and his mother, Pam, hired Maximum Sports Management over the weekend which ended his college career in Reno after two short seasons.
“I’m declaring for the draft,” McGee said, his voice barely audible. “I want to thank everybody – the coaches and fans of Nevada.
“It (the decision) was really difficult. Everybody wants to win the Final Four. They will still have a good team without me.”
Maybe. It certainly will force coach Mark Fox to come up with one or even two big men in the recruiting home stretch to go along with his plethora of talented point guards, shooting guards and small forwards from this past season’s co-championship in the Western Athletic Conference.
McGee led the WAC with 2.8 blocked shots per game, while averaging 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He shot 53 percent from the floor. In 66 career games, McGee averaged 8.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game.
McGee’s Nevada career ended with an 80-79 loss to Houston in the first round of the first-ever College Basketball Invitational, which saw him get soundly booed by the Lawlor Faithful after throwing up two 3-point attempts and missing both.
Still, you could see the talent. It was raw, but it was there. McGee could do some things that fans would watch open-mouthed.
“You knew he was going to be an NBA player the first time you saw him,” said Curry Lynch, who concluded his Nevada career this season. “His length, athletic ability and wing span. He was born to do it.
“It (the NBA) never came up this year. He was on the draft board and we all knew it, but he didn’t talk about it.”
The allure of the NBA was too great for the 7-1, 240-pound baby-faced McGee to pass up, especially since nearly every mock draft had him going anywhere from No. 14 to No. 20.
McGee’s mother, Pam, talked with several owners and general managers in the NBA since the season ended.
“If you talk to any pro scouts, they will tell you JaVale is probably the most skilled 7-footer in the country, one of the most skilled 7-footers in the world,” Pam McGee said. “We are at the point now to ask, not is he a pro, but what kind of pro, what type of a pro will he become?
“I have insights that other people don’t have. I have long-term friends who are now general managers and owners. When I talk to them, they basically give me an honest opinion that my son is a stock option. They understand he is going to be a pro and there is no limit on what he can do. When they start talking to me and start saying lottery, early lottery, late lottery … I felt we had to do what is best for my son.”
McGee’s mom, who earned an Olympic gold medal after a brilliant career at USC, said she was told that her son’s skill set is better than 70 percent of the current players in pro ball.
Fox, who is leaving in the next day or so to attend the Final Four, said that hiring an agent was the best solution for McGee.
“He’s not a borderline draft pick,” Fox said. “I think he has proven his ability.
“I remember Nick Fazekas said during JaVale’s freshman year that he was the most talented kid on the team. Some of you laughed.”
Certainly there isn’t much laughing now, though many experts feel McGee would have been better off and could have solidified his draft position even more by staying in school another year.
Fox pointed out that McGee can work on his game however long he wants now that he isn’t involved with college ball. Had he stayed at Nevada, the coaches would have limited time to work with him until the Pre-Draft camp.
Pam McGee said her son was 6-foot-10 when he arrived at Nevada as a freshman.
“Now we have measured him and he is 7-foot-1 and one-quarter,” she said.
“Even at 240 he is still going up. With his frame, he can still carry 260 and be a mobile big man.”
Fox said in his discussions with NBA personnel, McGee’s weight and frame were things that were discussed.
“One of the things JaVale has done here is he has still grown physically,” Fox said. “He is still maturing physically. The common thing I got from NBA people is that Mother Nature is going to take its course and he is going to fill out physically.”
That work, according to Pam McGee, will start immediately. The first order of business for JaVale McGee is that he will be sequestered for the next month at an undisclosed location to start training.
“You might as well know, they are calling him the ‘Big Secret.’ So the secret is out. He’s the Big Secret,” Pam McGee told reporters. “He’ll be sequestered for 30 days to work on his body, to work on his training, work on his game. They have a special chef to put weight on his body, his speed and explosion.”
Pam McGee, who homeschooled her son since he was 7, and Fox said that JaVale intends to graduate from college, and that he will try to finish out the semester possibly by doing coursework through the Internet.
It was Fox’s approach to education that stuck with Pam McGee during the recruiting process. Fox talked academics first, and that impressed McGee’s mother, who teaches high school algebra in the Sacramento area.
• Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281
MCGEE BY THE NUMBERS
0 Starts his freshman season
7 Blocked shots in a single game vs. Northern Iowa
12 Field goals made against Louisiana Tech
26 Career high in points vs. La. Tech
122 Career blocked shots