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July 11, 2014

McKie: 'I wasn't ready'

If sophomore Justin McKie has learned anything in a year, it's humility.

Coming into the S.C. Pro-Am fresh off a high school state championship, South Carolina Mr. Basketball and brimming with confidence, McKie found life on Frank Martin's roster at South Carolina more difficult than he'd imagined.

By his own admission, McKie didn't handle it well.

"Last year, I wasn't ready physically or mentally," said McKie, who played in 17 games last season, averaging 4.7 minutes and 0.5 points per game. "I was doing some things I shouldn't have been doing, so I just have to grow physically and mentally."

McKie's best game came Jan. 15 at Texas A&M when he played a season-high 11 minutes, scoring five points with three rebounds and a steal. McKie knows that to brighten his prospects at the school where his father remains the all-time scoring leader he needs to use the off-season and Pro-Am to improve his attitude and effort.

"It's tough, because you come from a point where you go from being 'the guy' on a team to where you're not just another guy, because you're important, but you have to play a role you've been put into," McKie said Thursday night after scoring 12 points with 9 assists. "Not that you can't do some things that you did in high school, you just can't do them as freely because you have other guys who can do it just as much if not more.

"You have to know, to pick and choose your spots, and that's what was really tough for me and that's what I'm growing up to be better at.

McKie is playing on a team with former Gamecock Carlos Powell and said Powell's influence is a positive one.

"Carlos comes and plays pickup with us when we just play by ourselves," McKie said. "You get help from pros (like Powell) to help you get better, talk you through things. I had an airball at the end of the game and I was stressing about it, and Carlos just told me to brush it off and go to the next play."

The next play comes Sunday, which also represents another step in the growth not just of the player but the man.

"I know I have to grow up a lot," he said. "I will."



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