Sophomore sixth-man McKay waiting for name to be called as starter

Central Michigan sophomore guard Kevin McKay poses for a portrait before practice on Feb. 1 at McGuirk Arena.

Less than two minutes into the game against Buffalo, sophomore guard Kevin McKay was on one knee in front of the scorer's table, ready to check in.

Even though McKay does not start, he averages the fourth-most minutes on the team, ahead of two starters. 

“We really feel like we have six starters on this team,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “We don’t want our starters to all get tired at the same time, so it’s nice to be able to sub one out a minute into the game to get the rotation going.”

The 6-foot-5, 222-pound guard made his mark in the first game of the season with the Chippewas, earning 22 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals in 24 minutes. 

Since MAC play started, McKay’s highest-scoring game was a 17-point, eight-rebound performance in a 70-61 loss to Miami (Ohio). He shot 7-of-10 from the field. 

“Every team needs that guy off the bench who can score and play defensively,” McKay said. “With that, they want me to be that guy. I’ve gained enough respect from the team where they trust me play earlier.” 

McKay’s just waiting for his name to be called. 

“I am ready to start,” McKay said. “If not, I’m ready to come off the bench and have that role. I’m playing starters minutes, so I can’t complain about that.” 

If Davis needed to call on McKay to take on a starting role this season, he would not have to hesitate to put him in the lineup. 

“There’s no doubt (he could start),” Davis said. “With Kevin, he can do whatever is needed. Having a sophomore who is your most versatile player and most valuable player says a lot about where he’s come from in a short amount of time.”

McKay has scored in double figures in eight of 11 conference games. In those games, he averaged 6.4 rebounds per game. Over the last four contests, the guard has played more than 30 minutes twice. 

A standout at De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, McKay leads CMU with 43 steals, which is 19 more than sophomore guard David DiLeo, who is second on the list. McKay ranks fourth in rebounds, third in blocks and third in field goal percentage. 

“He brings a different energy to the court,” Davis said. “He brings it defensively and with rebounding. He can play every position. When we get in foul trouble, it’s nice to have a player like Kevin who can play a number of positions.”

McKay and DiLeo are both sophomores earning starter minutes this season in Mount Pleasant, which is only a positive aspect when looking toward the future. 

“The next two years, we should be good," McKay said. "We have players that are getting experience. Coming into the season, besides Cecil (Williams) and Luke (Meyer), none of our players had experience starting the games.

“For next year, I’ll know what it’s like (to start) since I’m playing starters minutes.”