Image courtesy Rant Sports
By James Blackburn
Game Scouted: Wake Forest vs. Radford
Wake Wins 79-67
Travis McKie (F, 6’7”, JR)
29 min, 4-8 FG, 0-3 3pt., 3-4 FT, 9 reb, 3 PF, 2 assist, 3 TO, 11 TP
Travis struggled over all from the offensive end this game, but did showcase a few things particularly in the second half that will potentially translate to the professional level. He attacked and went to the rim aggressively the first few times he touched the ball and showed what we already knew, that he could get to the rim in straight line dribble drives. What he did better then last season was the ability to drive in a straight line and kick to the open shooter in the strong side corner, something he did not often do last season because his head was down and he could not see open teammates.
Although he struggled to find his shot tonight, to McKie’s credit, he did a decent job passing the ball to teammates, better then the 2 assist in the box score shows. He had several nice post entry passes and lob passes up court in transition for easy scores for his teammates.
Used his size/strength/athleticism to pace the Deacs in the rebounding category with 9 rebounds tonight. One he secures the rebound, he is not at risk of losing it or having it taken away as he secures it strongly with 2 hands and had several rebounds where he practically ripped the ball off the back board. Rebounding is one of and has been McKie’s greatest strength since arriving at Wake Forest.
Looked comfortable in the mid post with his back to the basket- getting his first two scores in this area 15’ and in. He used his size/strength to his advantage and was able to get a couple of easy scores this way by slashing from this area and facing up and hitting the mid range. Though he did struggle by any consistency shooting from the outside this game, he is a good FT shooter, shooting 3-4 tonight and is a 70% + shooter from the stripe for his career.
Honestly this was not a good showing from McKie, despite what the numbers tell you from the box score. Defensively he really struggled in all facets against a smaller, yet younger and more energetic Radford team. He showed a poor overall effort and principals on the defensive end early on by getting hung up on screens and not fighting or making strong effort to get around screens (especially ones off the ball), jogging back on defense, and showed poor closeout principals on the perimeter (Not closing out under control).Didn’t box out at all this game and allowed his man who was shorter and less athletic to get a several offensive rebounds and run free un-touched to the rim-(Was the first man to be substituted for shortly after- leaving the game after just 5 minutes on the floor). Nearly every board he collected this game was the result of him being by himself and on the defensive end- not because of him boxing out or working extremely hard- also worth noting was he didn’t collect a single offensive board. Didn’t show good technique defending on the perimeter most of the game- stood too tall and didn’t show the capability to slide his feet and stop dribble penetration. Defensive stance is poor- doesn’t move feet well laterally, hands are down by side too much- needs to use wing span to defend- jumps out of control at shooters instead of contesting w/ a high hand and staying on the ground (fouled a 3-point shooter with 13 min. left in 2nd half by jumping to block his shot). Lost track of his man several times in transition.
On the offensive end, McKie struggles didn’t solely rest on missing shots, but in other areas as well. He did not cut hard when he was off the ball to get open- Radford defended him easily off the ball. Ran off an off the ball screen half-heartedly on the second possession of the game- acted like he didn’t want the ball. Looked frustrated most of game on the offensive end of the floor. Didn’t head hunt on screens when running sets. He looks like he is rushing his shot- shooting is in-consistent, especially from 3. His release is low and he pushes the ball to a degree. His mechanics aren’t great, but they are not bad either.
Playing in opening regular season game against a very young Radford that that went 6-26 last season. Travis looked cool, collected, and in chill mode going through warm-ups just before the start of the game. As previously stated he struggled offensively this game and didn’t find the scoring column until 15:30 min. left in the second half.
McKie is attempting to transition from an undersized PF to the SF once again, which is something that NBA scouts are monitoring. His ball handling and shooting is inconsistent and he struggled this game to defend on the perimeter. He plays much better when he embraces the undersized PF role and when he works hard and does the dirty work inside. In my opinion he would be a good D-League option if he decided to leave after this season where he could be a rebounder and athletic F. He would be better served to stay another year and continue to work his perimeter play and show scouts that he can play the SF at the next level. I actually believe that if he could contribute at the pro level (D-League/NBA) if he played the undersized PF position and worked extremely hard in the trenches grabbing rebounds and scoring in the paint, something he showed the last two years at Wake Forest.
One thing worth noting as well is the fact that even though in my opinion, McKie had a poor performace, he still shot 50% from the field, grabbed 9 rebounds, and had a couple of assist in a win. Granted it was against a below average team, but it was the first game of the season. It was his best night or best performance but he grabbed some big rebounds at the end and scored all 11 of his points in the second half to help put a scrappy Radford team away. My point is even on a rough night for McKie he was 1 rebound shy of a double-double. I have seen him put up way bigger numbers against ACC competition in the past. The key is and will continue to see monitor his progression and how much he is improving, if at all.