Richmond High (Calif.) once had one of the most dominant boy's basketball programs in the East Bay. With Clyde Hardeman and Mike Farmer from the 50's to Dwayne Foreman and Willie "Crank" Jackson in the early 70's, the Oilers routinely competed for league titles and the Tournament of Champions (TOC). Fast forward to the present and Wendell McKines is doing his best to bring Richmond back to the glory days.
Already considered one of the finest frontcourt players to come out of the 23rd St. campus, McKines is putting up All-American caliber numbers as evidenced by 45 points, 23 rebounds, and 13 assists in a recent 105-84 win over Berkeley High.
The slam dunk, outlawed from the high school college games in 1968 due to the dominate exploits of UCLA's Lew Alcindor (now Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), was reinstated back into college and high school ball in '77 and McKines has taken the artform to new heights. In the Berkeley game, the 6-foot-5 junior had 15 dunks for an unheard of quadruple-double.
The agile McKines began his high school career with a bang two seasons ago after spending a year living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Concerning his experience, he noted the differences between the South and San Francisco Bay Area. "Third graders knew how to cook full course meals", said McKines. Once settled in Richmond, he hit the ACCAL with the strength of Hurricane Katrina as he routinely put up 30-plus points and over 20 rebounds per outing.
McKines is a rebounding machine with a lethal jump-hook. One observer noted how his game is a "throwback" type of game with a work ethic and intensity reminiscent of NBA Hall of Famer Moses Malone not seen in many young players today.
Although McKines missed the latter half of his sophomore season due to academic problems (he currently has a 2.3 grade point average), he has come back this year with a fury and the results continue to amaze onlookers. One of only seven players on the Oilers' squad, McKines is a handful by himself. During the recently concluded ACCAL season, he led the league in rebounding and scoring with 32.5 points per game. For the season, he is averaging 26 points and 16 rebounds.
McKines is receiving communiqués from virtually every team in the Pac-10, but he says the school he'd like most to attend is Arizona. Others schools interested in his services include Texas Tech, Georgetown, and Gonzaga. However, some analysts see him as a "tweener" at the next level because he plays a big man's game at a mere 6-foot-5.
"I see myself as a rebounding small forward," said McKines. Concerning his strengths and weaknesses, Wendell concedes he needs work on his ball handling skills (on a scale of 1-10, he says his handles are a "4"), but he believes, without hesitation, his strong points are his athleticism and ability to snatch rebounds.
There is no question with the numbers McKines is putting up, he can play with anyone. "He welcomes the challenge of going against guys who are tabbed top players," said Richmong High 4th-year head coach Rob Collins. "He doesn't care who it is. [Wendell] feels he can handle them."
McKines plans to continue improving his game in the offseason by competing with the Shakur Village club team so fans who don't get the opportunity to see this phenomenal player can do so on the summer circuit.