Why did Jalyn McCreary commit to South Carolina? He likes ‘tough love’ coaching
South Carolina basketball on Friday officially signed the fourth member of its 2019 recruiting class. Jalyn McCreary’s commitment came months after Trae Hannibal, Wildens Leveque and Trey Anderson did the same, but that hardly diminishes its importance.
Here are five more things to know about McCreary:
1. McCreary’s playing style fits what USC could look like next season
Frank Martin, who knows Carolina’s personnel better than anyone, has already stated that the 2019-20 Gamecocks will play different than past teams. With Chris Silva’s departure, USC doesn’t present a proven post threat. What it does have is a bunch of long athletes who can run and do damage from the perimeter.
Involve McCreary with A.J. Lawson, Keyshawn Bryant and Justin Minaya? He’ll take it.
“I’m an athlete myself,” McCreary said. “I like to jump and run the floor. I fit in to players that have athleticism. Yeah, it’ll be a good bond.”
B.J. Jackson, McCreary’s coach at Legacy Charter, has a feel for how Martin might blend McCreary and the 6-6 Bryant at the forward spots.
“It’ll be good to watch both of them,” Jackson said. “Keyshawn and Jalyn are explosive athletes. Both of them can do a great job of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. So it should fun watching them next year.”
2. South Carolina’s biggest need is McCreary’s developing skill
McCreary averaged 18 points and six rebounds this season for Legacy Charter. If that latter number can translate quickly to the college level, the Gamecocks could use it.
Silva grabbed 21 percent of USC’s rebounds last season.
“He got better as the year went on,” Jackson said of McCreary’s glass skills. “We do a lot of rebounding and boxing out drills and we try to tell him … ‘With your height, length and your jumping ability, you gotta impact your stats more than just scoring. Fill the other parts, rebounding, block shots,’ which he started doing a better job of blocking shots, getting out with deflections where it leads to steals and stuff.
“He was more impactful outside of just scoring as the year went on.”
3. McCreary was Georgia-raised ... on football
McCreary lived in Statesboro, Georgia, until he was 6. He then moved to Marietta before arriving at Legacy Charter for his final year of high school.
While he excels at basketball now, McCreary was first a running back.
“Basketball wasn’t really my main sport,” he said. “Football was my main sport. I quit football in seventh grade and then basketball took over. I started really getting into it.”
He credits his mother, Kristie Gordon, for continued support.
“She’s a big part of my success,” McCreary said of Gordon, an elementary school counselor in Georgia. “I wouldn’t be here, where I am, without her at all. She sacrificed a lot for me to play basketball, traveling to AAU tournaments and stuff. Definitely sacrificed a lot for me to come here and be away from her.”
4. It’s his next stop, but college basketball doesn’t top his what-to-watch list
Off the court, McCreary admits he doesn’t do a whole lot. He’s not into video games. He just “chills” — and consumes professional basketball.
“I don’t really watch too much college basketball,” McCreary said. “I’m an NBA guy, so I watch a lot of NBA.”
Favorite player? Kevin Durant. Favorite team? Golden State Warriors, but it used to be the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I’m a Kevin Durant fan, so anywhere he goes, I’m gonna be a fan of,” McCreary said.
5. McCreary has an extensive shoe collection
McCreary on Thursday rocked some white low-top Gucci kicks while speaking with The State.
Legacy Charter school requires a uniform, so the kind of shoe you wear is one of the best ways to show individuality. McCreary has a bunch to choose from.
“I’m a sneaker head,” he said.
“He has too many shoes,” Jackson said. “I told him, ‘Some of your shoes cost more than my car payment, dude.’ But he’s one of them guys, he loves to wear the fancy shoes. Even when we’re out there for practices and stuff, before we get our team shoes, he’s always flamboyant with himself with the shoes and stuff.”
Outlandish kicks complete a look that now includes green in McCreary’s hair.
“I really like fashion,” McCreary said. “I’ve been into it since ninth grade.”