Jameel McKay has decided to transfer from Marquette University before ever playing in a game as a member of the Golden Eagles. McKay, a 6'8" forward, transferred to Marquette after playing two seasons of junior college ball at Indian Hills CC in Iowa. McKay is a local product, however, playing for Pulaski HS in Milwaukee during his prep career.
McKay would have joined a long list of junior college success stories under Buzz Williams since he became the Marquette head coach five-plus seasons ago. Jimmy Butler, the starting shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls, played three seasons under Williams. Butler played a variety of positions at Marquette, making him a versatile fit for any NBA team.
Dwight Buycks played two seasons in Milwaukee before pursuing an international playing career. Buycks' hard work paid off, though, as this past summer he was signed to be the backup point guard for the Toronto Raptors. Darius Johnson-Odom played for three seasons under Williams and was a second-round selection following his senior year.
Former Big East Player of the Year and two-year junior college transfer Jae Crowder was the player most commonly compared to McKay. Not only do both players have dreadlocks, but they are both versatile forwards. Physically, Crowder is much stronger and more primed for Big East basketball. McKay, however, is four inches taller than Crowder, so what he loses in strength he could have made up for in athleticism.
McKay was a two-time All-American in the junior college ranks and averaged a double-double a year ago. He was the third best junior college recruit for the upcoming year and could have been part of an incredible frontcourt this season up north.
The reason for McKay's decision to transfer remains unclear. Unwillingness to play the center positions and poor grades have been rumored, though those are neither here nor there. Just this past spring, both Jake Thomas and Juan Anderson were released from their scholarships at MU, before weeks later deciding to come back and join the team. Will this be the case with McKay? Who knows.
Marquette's frontcourt contains a trio of seniors in the true-senior Davante Gardner, redshirt senior Jamil Wilson and sixth-year senior Chris Otule. Anderson can also play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward, while sophomore Steve Taylor Jr. is a natural 4-man. Deonte Burton is also a versatile, bulldozer-built newcomer to the team.
I had projected McKay to be the team's starting power forward, though there would have been competition with all the above-mentioned players. As we've learned from Buzz Williams' coached teams, whether you are a starter or reserve, it does not matter as he'll play a 10-plus man rotation every night.
In the end, McKay's loss isn't a huge blow for this upcoming season. It does, however, sting in what would have been McKay's senior year, as Taylor will be the only true big man on next year's roster. I, for one, was incredibly excited to see McKay perform on the court this year and wish him the best wherever he ends up.