Monday, October 17, 2011
No. 1 — New Mexico State senior forward Wendell McKines
As a reporter in a market this size, you don't think players or coaches read things, but Wendell McKines has proven over time that he does. He reminded me of a blog entry I wrote his sophomore or junior season where I believed that he should come off the bench and provide an energy boost for the Aggies. That's not the reason I believe McKines to be the best player in the WAC this year, but I do have some concerns. The biggest is the simple fact that nobody has seen him play since March 19, 2010 in a NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan State. McKines told me the other day that he was disappointed with his individual performance in that game (1 for 8, 7 points, 7 rebounds) He worked over that summer getting ready to play on the perimeter last year along side Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman. We all know what happened. Now from what he tells me, he's moving back into the post, but he will likely still show an improved jumper and game off the dribble. As I thought about it though, what put him ahead of other players this year to me is that even if he is the same player we saw as a junior (10.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg), he's the best player in the league. He led the league with 9.8 boards per game in WAC play at a time the league had really good rebounders like Babbitt, Rolle, Oakes, Ashaolu and Okoye. From a local standpoint, is McKines the best pure athlete they've had here? He will likely leave NMSU No. 2 in rebounds behind Sam Lacy. Lacy is also the only Aggie to have 1000 points and 1000 rebounds, but all McKines has to do to join that company average 4 ppg and 8 rpg this season. What put McKines over Burton to me though was his unselfishness as a player. He averaged 3 assists per game as junior in 24 games. I wouldn't be surprised to see McKines record at least one triple double this season, which would make him the third to do so at NMSU and the first since William Benjamin had 15 pts, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 120-62 win at home against Cal State Northridge in 1990. The best player in the WAC should make players around him better, and McKines has certainly done that throughout his career.