2011 Scouting Report: Travis McKie, Wake Forest
One of my favorite columns of the off-season is Luke Winn’s predicted breakout sophomore players. His 50% minute cap excludes Travis McKie, but I believe McKie is a player who is poised for a big sophomore season. He finished third for ACC Rookie of the Year behind Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall, despite arguably having better numbers than both players, while playing for a dismal Wake Forest team. Wake loses notable offensive players Gary Clark and Ari Stewart, so even more of their possessions will be centered around McKie, making him a prime selection for having a breakout season. Today, we are going to look at two of his strengths and two areas he needs to work on to round out his game.
McKie’s biggest strength is his ability to rebound the ball, especially on the defensive end. He averaged 5.2 defensive rebounds per game, which comes out to an 18.4 defensive rebound rate, 13th in the ACC. He has the strength to keep opponents at bay, the athleticism to grab the rebound and the desire to help his team on the glass.
As a freshman, he showed that he had good technique on his box outs, getting his body on an opponent instead of relying only on his athleticism. At only 6’7″, this will help as he will be defending taller opponents most of the year and he will need to push them away from the lane which will give him the space to go up and get the rebound off the rim.
Spot up jumper
A second strength of McKie I noticed watching a few games from this past season was his ability to spot up and knock down a jump shot. Playing a hybrid SF/PF position, this will be a crucial skill for McKie to develop, not only to benefit the Demon Deacons but to impress any pro scouts that come knocking. McKie shot 30% from the three point line last season, which shows he needs to be selective in shooting 3’s but he showed that he can make it from beyond the three point line.
McKie does not shoot well off the dribble or coming off a screen but when he can set his feet, he showed he needs to be guarded. One thing he can work on his follow through on his jump shot, as he does not always flick his wrist.
Areas to work on
One area that McKie needs to improve on is his setting of screens for his teammates. Much of the time, he simply goes through the motions of setting a screen instead of taking the time to set himself and get a piece of the man he is trying to screen. This obviously makes it difficult for the teammate using the screen to get open as it is easy for the defender to get through the screen.
McKie needs to have some patience when setting a screen and let the play develop. He needs to get a wide base and hold the screen to allow his teammate to run off him and get open. Last season, he seemed more focused on what was going to happen after the screen and how he was going to get himself open instead of holding his screen to get a teammate free. Setting better screens will help open up his teammates for good shots and will also help himself get open on the slip of the screen.
Creating off the dribble
While McKie is a solid shooter when he can catch and spot up, he needs a lot of work in creating off the dribble. He struggled creating his own shot last season and will need to show more confidence this season. When he tries to get to the rim off the dribble, he gets out of control and either puts up a wild shot or turns the ball over.
Wake Forest may not need McKie to be able to create off the dribble consistently to win games but if he wants to impress scouts one day, he will need to show he can take his defender off the dribble and finish at the rim. He couldn’t last season and we will see if he improved at all this summer.