Balling! WHHS sophomore already receiving college offers

McKinely+drives+towards+the+basket+during+an+open+gym+at+Walnut.+College+coaches+from+universities+across+the+country+have+been+dropping+in+to+watch+the+WHHS+players+at+the+open+gyms.+

Sydnie Barrett

McKinely drives towards the basket during an open gym at Walnut. College coaches from universities across the country have been dropping in to watch the WHHS players at the open gyms.

Only a sophomore, WHHS standout Tyler McKinley has already received multiple offers to play college basketball. McKinley, a 6’9  power forward, was instrumental in the WHHS men’s basketball team reaching the playoffs last season. 

“I would describe my game as all around, versatile, on and off the ball defense and offense,”  McKinely said. 

McKinely currently has official offers to play basketball in college from the University of Cincinnati, West Virginia University, Miami University [of Ohio], and the University of South Carolina. 

Many other schools have shown interest as well. He went on an unofficial visit to Columbus to visit Ohio State the weekend of Sept. 25. 

Prospective athletes can not go on official recruiting visits until Aug. 1 entering their junior year, but can go on unofficial visits, meaning they pay for the trip entirely themselves. Additionally, coaches can not directly contact prospective athletes until June 15 entering their junior year. Once June 15 hits, McKinely is expecting to hear from a load of coaches. 

“Everyone says that it gets crazy once June 15 hits,” McKinely said. 

Though the recruiting process can get hectic, McKinely has a support system to help him through it. WHHS boys basketball coach, Ricardo Hill, has helped many former WHHS athletes with the process, and has already been assisting McKinely. 

“Tyler is a special student athlete at Walnut. We’re concentrating on making him the best player he can be on and off the court. This will allow him to remain grounded and not get caught up in the hype. We believe his character is far more valuable for his future, “ Hill said. 

Ricardo would not be helping McKinely with the recruiting process if it were not for all the hard work McKinely has put in. McKinely not only plays for WHHS, but two other club teams: Vegas Elite and All Ohio Red. 

With the All Ohio Red team, McKinely traveled to Georgia to play at the Peach Jam tournament this summer. Peach Jam attracts the best players from all over the country, and is a hotspot for college coaches to come and get some recruiting done. McKinely gathered a lot of attention from coaches there after averaging 12 points and ten rebounds, along with two blocks. 

Being a student at WHHS is hard enough due to the workload, but McKinely must also balance basketball with school. He not only practices every day, but comes in before school around 6 a.m. three to four days a week on top of evening practices. 

“Yeah, it can be hard to balance school and ball, but you just gotta be dedicated,”  McKinely said. 

McKinely is able to enjoy this grind in part because of the joy he experiences while playing basketball. 

I would describe my game as all around, versatile, on and off the ball defense and offense.”

— Tyler McKinely

“My favorite part [of basketball] is just meeting new people along the journey and having fun doing it,” McKinely said. 

McKinley has been able to form connections with his teammates and become connected with the student body in such a short time because he was a starter on varsity during his freshman campaign in 2020-2021. Being on varsity allowed him to meet more people who he has left a significant impact on. 

“I am super happy for [Tyler] with all of the offers he’s getting,” fellow varsity basketball player SENIOR Owen Murray said. “He works extremely hard and it is paying off. He is only a sophomore so there is definitely more to come.” 

Since he is only a sophomore, McKinely has lots of time to gather more offers. Although he already has offers from basketball programs that are consistently ranked in the top 25, McKinely dreams of playing at college basketball powerhouses Duke University or the University of North Carolina. 

Another possible pathway for Mckinely after highschool is the G League, which is the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) minor league system. Players can enter the G League after highschool and make money, while gaining experience playing professionally. 

“Yes, I have thought about the G League, but it will all depend on the timing and how I feel,” McKinely said. 

McKinely does not plan to stop playing basketball once college ends. He says in ten years he sees himself playing in the League, another name for the NBA.

Until then, the WHHS community is lucky to call McKinely one of their own.