October 21, 2012

McKie's AAU connections in the ACC

Wake Forest forward Travis McKie has friends in high places when it comes to basketball.

The 6-foot-7 and 220-pound junior from Richmond, Va. has known NC State's C.J. Leslie and Rodney Purvis, North Carolina's James Michael McAdoo, Washington Wizards point guard ex-Kentucky standout John Wall, and Southern Cal and former Demon Deacon J.T. Terrell since middle school. He said they met at D-1 Sports in Raleigh.

"He's [Leslie] always been a good player," McKie said. "He's always been very athletic, and obviously they [NC State] have a very good team this year. All of us go back to AAU days. James [Michael] McAdoo was my teammate in AAU for two years, so I think all of us know each other coming up in AAU. I think we have a lot of respect for each other."

"It's very competitive, because we all know each other. We all grew up together in this business. In AAU we played each other constantly, so definitely a competition. We definitely have fun with it. We try to win for our respective schools, but we have respect for another."

Leslie (pre-season ACC Player of the Year), McAdoo (pre-season first-team All-ACC), McKie (pre-season All-ACC second team) and Purvis (pre-season ACC Rookie of the Year) will add to their long history of intense battles on the court this season.

McKie struggled versus the Tar Heels and Wolfpack, averaging only 7.6 points and seven rebounds against those Tobacco Road rivals. However, he is the ACC's second-leading returning scorer (16.1 points per game) and sixth returning rebounder (seven rebounds per game) from last season.

"Travis is a good dude," Leslie said. "I've known him obviously for a while. On the court he's very competitive. He can do so many things. That what makes him the great player that he his."

"He's one of those players that can handle the ball. He's tall and he's very agile. He's a tough player to match up against. He's a great player."

McAdoo echoed Leslie when he said McKie is versatile, because he can play multiple positions. The UNC sophomore added McKie is always working on his game.

McAdoo and McKie exchanged some fun-loving banter at the ACC Basketball Media Day.

"I have one question for Mr. McAdoo," McKie said. "Now, when I knew James McAdoo … I don't know James Michael McAdoo. I don't know where the Michael came from, because when I knew him he was just James McAdoo. He gets to UNC, and now he's James Michael McAdoo. You can say he big-timed me, but what do I know. I'm just going to step over to my little table."

McAdoo said it is the other way around.

"Travis before he big-timed me we actually used to know each other back when I was in high school and then he left me and I stayed in little ole Norfolk, Virginia and he's been doing big things here in the ACC," McAdoo said.

While the longtime friends can complement one another and enjoy some laughs the smiles turn into game faces once the season tips off.

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