Fair warning: Don't take Justin McBride's final list of six colleges' accomplishments for granted.
His aptitude for studying is one of several qualities that make the 6'7" forward a must-have prospect for Kansas State, Santa Clara, VCU, Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Arizona State.
And no, not in the cliched, off-hand manner of the "student of the game." McBride has accumulated a number of man hours to back up his assertion.
“A lot of people talk about studying film and things like that, but I really do this,” McBride says. “I’ve seen multiple hours of film on all six of the schools, and I’m just getting started breaking it down. And I watch for everything.”
Naturally, McBride pays close attention to how the system utilises his positions on both sides of the field, but what distinguishes him from the group is the in-depth way in which he analyses everything from the huddles to the body language.
“I look at whether the players and coaches are encouraging each other, how they handle success and how they handle mistakes,” McBride says. “I look at the bench and how together they are. I look at the energy too; that’s big for me. You can tell a lot about a team based on how they handle those little things. It tells a lot about the culture there. I want to be in a system with a positive culture. That’s where I can be my best.”
Clearly, the culture at both Plano (Texas) High School and Drive Nation (Texas) was up to par this past year.
McBride pumped in 16 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Wildcats, which included a mind-boggling minute where McBride reeled off eight straight points in a playoff game.
“I heard of the ‘Miracle Minute’ that Jay Williams had at Duke,” McBride says. “I guess I had one of my own. That just set up my mentality for this summer.”
|Justin McBride was unstoppable this summer for Drive Nation. / USA Basketball|
McBride’s big summer ascended to the special level in July after averaging 16.8 points and five rebounds at the final Nike EYBL stop in Kansas City, then opening Nike Peach Jam with a super-efficient 33-point outing (on 70 percent shooting) against Team Melo (Md.) in front of the team’s namesake Carmelo Anthony.
“After that game, Melo pulled me to the side and just gave me some pointers and advice,” McBride says. “He basically was just telling me to stay focused because he felt like I had the game to go far. Just hearing that from someone like him was really big for me. I’ve always admired Melo, so it just took my confidence to another level for him to recognize me in that way. I never thought I’d be in the position to have all these offers, let alone a Hall of Famer pulling me to the side like that.”
The story of McBride’s rise is full of valleys and peaks.
He showed great promise as a freshman at South Garland (Texas), where he dropped 30 points in his first game off the bench. His performance that season ultimately set up an opportunity to transfer to national hoops power Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).
But when his move to rural town Virginia was stalled "for personal reasons," it affected his playing time and subsequently impacted his standing in the class of 2023.
“I just got to Oak Hill late, but it wasn’t anything I could really control,” McBride says. “I wasn’t playing as much, and I started dropping in the rankings from that point. I just tried to keep a good attitude and focus on what I could control. That’s why I don’t really care about rankings like that. The numbers are the numbers for me. You can’t dispute it; I’m focusing on these schools and my visits now.”
First up is Oklahoma State in early September, then Arizona State and Kansas State will follow on consecutive weekends. He’s “still in the process” of setting dates for officials to Santa Clara and VCU and has already visited Missouri.
“I’ll take all five visits for sure,” McBride says. “I won’t cut my list anymore; next will be a decision. I think that will happen around October or November. For now, I’m just doing my homework on all of the schools. On the visits, I’ll be taking notes on everything. Again, I’m looking for a great basketball culture because I feel like that’s the situation where I’ll have the most success.”