On April 30 Kyle MacDonald took the first step toward what he calls “an opportunity to create his own legacy”.
The Hillsdale High School senior sharp-shooter officially signed his letter of intent to play basketball under scholarship for Jackson Community College after drawing interest from the Jets’ coaching staff following his participation in numerous open gym sessions.
MacDonald said his mother, Amy Manifold, called the coaching staff about potential opportunities that might be available, he started playing pick up ball with players from Albion, Holly, Jackson High and East Jackson among other schools, with plenty of eyes watching — and needless to say, he impressed.
Hillsdale High School head basketball coach Brad Felix said he received a call from JCC head coach Steve Finamore a few weeks ago and Finamore was excited about the prospect of having MacDonald on his roster.
“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.”
MacDonald said he actually garnered some interest from Hillsdale College prior to his junior season, but he spent much of that year buried on the bench and it wasn’t until the end of the 2008 season that things really started to come together for him.
That’s when MacDonald started lifting weights, becoming a gym rat and really focusing on the sport he didn’t start playing competitively until eighth-grade.
“Everything started to change when I started hitting the weights, and got stronger,” he said, noting that people like teammate Scott Lantis and Hornet football coach Marc Lemerand had a major impact on his training techniques. “Plus coach told me I had to get better at my ball handling and defense, and this season he told me I’d play about 27 minutes a game, and I did and I had a lot better season.”
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.
Manifold said she was glad to see her son finally get an opportunity, especially after he had played so well for the Lenawee Magic, an AAU team, during the summer.
“In AAU games during the summer he would play better and I think he plays better with people he doesn’t know as well, for whatever reason,” she said. “He scored 30-some points at an AAU game last summer and (former Hornets star) Tyler (Laser) was there, and he told Kyle he was going to go far and he had a future.”
MacDonald does have a future to look forward to indeed, but not only on the hardwood. He is planning on going into dentistry, something he can start taking classes for the next two years at JCC. The scholarship he was awarded will cover the cost of tuition and books and MacDonald has yet to decide whether not he will live near campus or commute for his first year.
One thing he is sure of though is that becoming a Jet was the perfect choice for him.
“The coaches are awesome and I’m really excited to play for them. They told me that now that I’ve made it, I’ve got to keep going because they can take the scholarship back at any time. I like that though, because I need to set goals and I like being pushed so I can get better,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to play college basketball, for a long time…I’ll probably play a little two-guard and some point (guard) for them.”
Manifold has typical motherly feelings about her son’s newest adventure.
“I really just want what’s best for Kyle. And JCC is close, the costs are a little lower and I’m happy if he’s happy. He’s going into dentistry school and that can take anywhere from 10-12 years so I think this is a good place for him to start,” she said. “The atmosphere is nice there and the coaches are great. They were really easy to work with and I like them a lot.”
The 5-11 MacDonald is one of three guards signed for the incoming freshmen class, along with Anthony Wade of Jackson High and Patrick Williams from Holly. Nick Schaefer, a point guard from Hanover-Horton, is another notable name on the Jets’ roster.
Manifold said she is excited to see her son play college basketball, and glad he will have a fresh start, where “politics” don’t come into play like they sometimes do in high school.
MacDonald, once a scrawny, scraggly-haired kid with glasses, and now a well-built young man with contacts, although the hair hasn’t changed, couldn’t agree more.
“Maybe it’s a chance to kind of create my own legacy and show people what I can do,” he said. “I guess I can kind of just come out of my shell.”