It’s no secret UNC- Pembroke has become player on the national level of Division II hoops, and a big reason for their emergence is landing diamonds in the rough.
Pembroke, North Carolina- The latest jewel to the collection is 2019 6’6 Jace McKinney of (South Brunswick HS), McKinney had some serious division one interest, after a big summer of travel ball, and some solid performances in our top 150 and top 80 camps.The Braves made him a priority throughout the July Live period and had multiple eyes on him at every game during our CP3 live event.
The persistence paid off when McKinney committed a couple months ago. Unc Pembroke has done a great job of poaching on fringe division one prospects that were overlooked, guys like Brandon Watts, Akia Pruitt, and, even current frosh Dewan Lesesne out of (Clinton Hs), are past examples.
These players come and buy into Coach Ben Miller’s system, the numbers speak for themselves. The Braves are (51- 14, 32-8), and have only lost three home games in the last two years. Unc Pembroke is looking to earn their third straight Peach Belt Conference championship this season, and they return a strong core from last seasons historic group.
The Black and Gold should be eager to avenge a shaky performance in the third round of last years NCAA tournament loss to Queens College. Their two leading scorers graduated, but the Braves will return virtually everyone else in the rotation from a year ago, Pruitt (12.5 ppg) and 6’6 senior James Murray- Boyles (12 ppg), should be ready to carry the torch. Their young back court led by 6’2 sophomore David Strother (9.6 ppg), should also take a step forward with another year of experience, and NC State transfer 6’8 senior Sean Kirk should add plenty of excitement.
McKinney is an explosive athlete in his own right with show time bounce, he’s a gym rat as well, over the last year McKinney has consistently added more to his bag. McKinney has the ball skills to play on the perimeter at the collegiate level, he’s more comfortable taking his man off the dribble, McKinney is an aggressive finisher, and his stocky frame allows him to absorb contact. McKinney has added touch from beyond the arc, that wasn’t a strength of his game a year ago.
McKinney has a chance to contribute when he hits campus, his versatility and relentless motor on both ends should make McKinney a fan favorite early on. Unc Pembroke runs and McKinney moves well at 6’6, he will get transition points, utilize his athletic ability on the boards, and on the defensive end McKinney is a timely shot blocker. The combination of natural athleticism and physicality McKinney plays with, will allow him to guard multiple positions at the next level.
With one year left in the prep ranks McKinney wants to win games and really lock in on sharpening his game for the next level.
” I want to work on my ball handling that’s one thing I feel like is keeping me back, at the next level I can bring lots of energy, intensity, and an overall leader.” McKinney said.