A month ago on the Rivals network, we introduced one of the hottest rising 2006 senior prospects in the country. A new starter for Chicago (Ill.) Hales Franciscan, a prep basketball powerhouse is JaVale McGee, a 7-foot 215-pound gamer that has just started to scratch the surface of his ability. McGee recently made his college decision.
Over the past month, McGee has been touring numerous West Coast universities in the Western Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, and the West Coast Conference. Since showing up on the Chicago AAU scene this summer and transferring to Hales, McGee has heard from dozens of East Coast recruiters too. But his heart has always been in the West.
"I love it out West," said McGee. "Like you mentioned, I spent a lot of time in California and the weather there is great. I've always felt comfortable out there."
McGee's rise in Chicago has been astronomical. Before Hales has even played a game, McGee has already climbed into the top five players in the 2006 class. It's a group that includes his Spartans teammate, point guard Jerome Randle, who is also headed West and will sign with the California Golden Bears next week. Another top 10 player, Joevan Catron will sign with Oregon in the early signing period. Becoming a Top 5 Chicago area player this meteoric is extremely impressive, considering the list involves Duke verbal Jon Scheyer (Glenbrook North), Kansas verbal Sherron Collins (Crane), uncommitted Manuel Cass, and the aforementioned Randle.
But McGee has always had the athleticism and bloodlines of a champion. He's been the "Shadow" of his courageous and energetic mother Pam throughout her professional basketball career - one that has taken her overseas, California, and back home again - as a player and coach. Pam McGee is one of the greatest players to ever don a USC women's uniform and was a unanimous 1984 All-American. She is one half of the greatest twins to have ever played the women's college game, with her sister Paula a 1982 and 1983 All-American at USC. The Trojans won back to back National Championships in 1983 and 1984.
JaVale's trips out West included visits to both USF and Nevada, who finished in his top two. He also was considering UNLV. But his decision came down to Nevada as that's where he felt the most comfortable.
"I really liked the city of San Francisco and the University," McGee stated. "There's a lot of excitement there but I just felt very comfortable with the facilities and the players at Nevada. The atmosphere was incredible. It was a tough decision but I like that Nevada has really accomplished more the past few seasons and they have players my size to practice against."
Who has McGee patented his game after?
"I really like Dirk Nowitzki," McGee admitted. "He plays more of the three-four and though I'm 7-foot, I have a good jumper and I like to face up. At Hales, I'll play more of the four-five which is cool."
Javale's mother was a terrific inside-out scorer as well. Pam is quite possibly the only woman to have ever won NCAA, European, South American, WNBA, and Olympic Gold in a career.
The scouting report on Javale shows that he's a fast-improving post player who moves around the court like a guard. His game is all about versatility, knowing he can defend bigs, score in the post, but also face up as an outside threat. With McGee dedicating himself to the game more this summer, he flourished while playing against competition in the Chicago area. JaVale spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Country Day high school before transferring to Providence Christian a year ago.
Hales-Franciscan has won two of the past three Illinois Class A state championships. They were not allowed to participate in 2003.
Congrats to JaVale and the rest of the McGee's - we look forward to following his career in the Western Athletic Conference.
A.W Prince is the senior writer and publisher of BearTerritory.net. He pens a west coast basketball article entitled "The Weekly Spin" for all Bay Area basketball programs, plus numerous other recruiting features on some of the most talented and highly sought after student-athletes in the country. Along with the "The Weekly Spin", Prince has made radio appearances with Rivals Radio and Bay Area college basketball pre-game, halftime, and post-game in-season shows.