By Clint Parker
Weaverville – Surrounded by family, coaches, and teammates at his home in Weaverville last week, Tyler McKinney held a ceremony celebrating his signing to play basketball at the college level.
McKinney, a graduating senior from Asheville Christian Academy (ACA), signed a four-year scholarship to play for Lincoln Memorial University, a private liberal arts institution of about 5,000 students in Harrogate, Tennessee. The school’s sports teams play in Divison II.
Point and shooting guard in high school, McKinney is unsure where his college team will use him. In his high school career at North Buncombe and ACA, McKinney racked up about 1,750 points for his teams. He plans on studying exercise science while at Lincoln.
Speaking about his high school career ending and his college career beginning McKinney said, “I think it’s a bittersweet thing. I had a lot of good memories in high school, but moving forward, I’m looking forward to the next phase in my life.”
ACA Basketball Coach Andy Ray stated of McKinney, “He is a very talented athlete that has a work ethic that just multiplies his natural ability. You add those two together and he’s just fun to watch and coach.” Coach Ray, with the help of Tyler, lead the school’s basketball club this year to a 19-9 record and to the state final four in the Carolina Athletics Conference.
Asked about Tyler’s outlook at the college level, Ray said, “I think he’s going to have a great career at that next level…his work ethic will carry him.” Ray praised Tyler’s season, “The season he had this year was one of the most phenomenal I’ve ever seen, must less coached. He shot 62% from two-point range, 46% from three-point range and 91% from the foul line.” He also lead in scoring and assists Ray stated.
Mom couldn’t be prouder but, “It’s bittersweet. I’m very excited for him. He has worked hard…I’m very excited for him to move on to the next level and very anxious to see what God has in store for him,” said Sherri McKinney.
North Buncombe Middle School Basketball Coach Shane Allison who coached McKinney when he was at the middle school, explained that “His (Tyler’s) work ethic is unmatched. I knew from seventh grade that was going to be the role for him (playing at the college level).”
Several of his teammates who were present also offer homage to Tyler. “He was a leader on and off the court,” told rising-Senior Kavan Horton. “I enjoyed playing with him. I knew he was going to be really good at the time…it was fun to watch him,” said former teammate Caleb Mills, who now plays for the University of Houston. Mills’ little brother, rising-Senior Collins Mills, said of McKinney, “Tyler was really competitive…he made all of us better.”