By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Edtor
As published in the Hillsdale Daily News on April 23, 2009
A Hillsdale senior has been offered a scholarship to play college basketball, and surprisingly his last name isn’t Gabriele.
A feel-good story involving plenty of weight lifting and shooting drills, and a shaggy-haired kid who shoots 3-pointers as if they were free-throws just got better, as Hillsdale guard Kyle MacDonald was offered a scholarship to play basketball at Jackson Community College late last week.
While MacDonald has not officially accepted the offer yet, and several calls to him were not returned, Hillsdale High School varsity basketball coach Brad Felix said he has talked with MacDonald and expects him to commit to JCC in the near future.
“Their head coach said they were in dire need of a spot-up shooter, and that kid definitely knows how to shoot. It’s nice because no one has been talking about Kyle at all,” Felix said. “Of all my guys on the team last year he is the only one with an offer right now, who would have thought that? I’m really happy for him and he’s a good kid.”
Felix said MacDonald had been going to JCC open-gym sessions and caught the attention of Jets’ coaches in the process. One of the coaches gave Felix a call early last week, and a few days later he was told MacDonald had been offered a spot on the roster.
MacDonald averaged 6.5 points per game as a senior, fourth on the team, and hit 32 3-pointers at a 28.1 percent clip. He also averaged 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game playing 25 minutes per game in a starting role, just a year removed from playing six to eight minutes per contest.
Felix said MacDonald’s career really took a turn in the right direction when he became more committed to weight lifting at the end of his junior season, and started becoming more of an all-around player, rather than just a long-range threat.
“I kind of put (Scott) Lantis in charge of him because kids come in and are sometimes intimidated right away. As a captain, I told Scotty to help us get Kyle in the weight room,” he said. “And Scotty latched onto him and he got Kyle into the weight room and I think that was a turning point, at the end of his junior year. Kyle started to gain confidence and earn the respect of his teammates a little more, so he kind of became one of the guys.”
Lantis said he had nothing to do with Mac’s transformation, it was more of the fact he became a gym rat and came into his own over the summer.
“Seriously, other than Tyler Laser, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid in the gym more than Mac. The joke was that we all said he must’ve had a loft up in the weight room as much as he was there,” Lantis said.
Felix said only a year ago he was putting MacDonald into the game for a few minutes to see if he could get into a shooting rhythm and if he couldn’t he would pull him. But now Felix said his defense is a selling point, he handles the ball well and most importantly he makes very few mistakes.
“He’s really a feel-good story,” Felix said. “He went the normal route, playing on the freshman (team) as a freshman and JV as a sophomore, and really at the end of his junior year he just started to grow up real quick.”
According to the JCC athletics Web site the Jets were 8-14 last season, barring results from their final five games which weren’t posted.