Skeen thriving in leadership role
by Donell Maxie
Jan 05, 2014 | 2675 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland High School shooting guard McKinnon Skeen has been stepping up as a true leader for the Lady Wildcats during the basketball season.
Cleveland High School shooting guard McKinnon Skeen has been stepping up as a true leader for the Lady Wildcats during the basketball season.
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McKinnon Skeen or MK as they call her on the court is as smooth of a jump shooter as there is in the state.

In the Bolivar County area any basketball fanatic knows who Skeen is or they've heard about the shooting guard from Cleveland High with the ponytail who can shoot the cover off the ball.

On the season, she is averaging 18.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. She is an 80-percent free throw shooter and shoot 29-percent from the three-point line. In the classroom, Skeen is an A average student with a 23 on the ACT.

Although many have heard about her shooting skills, what they may have not heard about are her tenaciousness, toughness, grit, faith and leadership.

These attributes and more help characterize Skeen as a ball player and more importantly as a person. Before every game and every practice the first person to hit the floor for the Lady Wildcats is usually Skeen. In fact at a recent practice, Skeen was the first player on the floor and the last to leave. Her commitment to be the best she can possibly be shows up in her strong work ethic and rigorous shooting drills.

Cleveland High head coach Jenny McCullough said, "McKinnon has always wanted to be as good as she could possibly be. Every game and every practice we have she is the first player on the floor ready to go. That's the kind of person she is with a hard work ethic."

Skeen's family plays a huge role in her life and their support has aided in her being the type of person and player she is. Her parents Brandyn and Shea Skeen and brothers Peter Vincent and Christopher have given her encouragement every step of the way.

"You will not find two finer people then McKinnon's parents. We have always been on the same page with her development," said McCullough.

Coming into this season, McCullough knew it would be a huge test for Skeen and the team with there being a lack of game experience for everyone besides Skeen. Along with McKinnon, there are three sophomores and a junior starting on the court. There are also two freshmen and a junior coming off the bench. Knowing this, McCullough knew Skeen would need to be prepared to lead.

With this situation the average player would probably be utterly frustrated, but Skeen embraced the challenge and cultivated a strong relationship with her teammates.

"She excepts responsibility for herself and her teammates,” McCullough said. “If something goes wrong she is right there to do whatever she has to do to help them. When she has made mistakes in this first half of the season it has been because she was trying to do too much to help her teammates.”

Skeen believes McCullough really helped prepare her for this season and the many challenges it would possess.

"It hasn't been anything that we couldn't handle,” Skeen said. “This summer Coach McCullough really prepared me for this season, for this situation. She (McCullough) has been on me and so I understood what my role was going to be this year. I love playing for Coach McCullough. She definitely has me ready to play college ball. She has never let up on me and it's going to make me the best person I can be.”

On the court and in practice, the 18-year-old hoops star said, "I try to keep my teammates calm. I can read them sometimes and tell they are freaking out and that's when it's my cue to go and get the ball and help them out and not leave them out there to dry. I try to let them know that it's on me and that I have their back no matter what.”

In addition to her own hard work, Skeen said she is very proud of the way her teammates have developed as the season has progressed.

"I'm proud of my teammates,” she said. “They have really showed up and have not bailed out. Like when Brittney Brown stepped up and made those two free throws to put us up against Ray Brooks. These girls have stepped up and completely changed their roles from last year. They are good about getting open and getting me open. It took us a little bit, but they have risen to the occasion.”

On the court, Skeen is always having fun and competing. Basketball for her is about the team and about challenging herself to be the best.

Shooting the three-point shot is an exciting thing for Skeen and her teammates and because they shoot the ball well, teams often try to take that away from them. As a result, Skeen has added more things to her game, which included shooting the ball from further out.

"Range wise once I pass half court I can shoot it. Coach has me practicing the long shots and it can get tough, but when I'm in the game I don't know how far I am, I just see that I'm open. I beg defenders to give me a little space cause all I need is a little bit and it's gone," Skeen said smiling.

With Skeen, her faith has played a huge role in the person she has become.

"Over the past four years I have watched as her faith has grown. She will tell you that all of this is important, but without God none of it is about anything," said McCullough.

"Praying before the game really helps us and L.A. (Lauren Ashley Collins) does a devotional and that really helps to get us focused before games," said Skeen.

Skeen has several goals in life, but one interesting one is to become a basketball coach.

"She wants to coach and so we allow her to do some coaching in practice with the team,” McCullough said. “She explains stuff and we give her that freedom because she is smart enough and understands what we are doing out there. After every game, she takes the game film home and puts it on this video program called, Huddle. This is like an assistant coach’s job. She also handles the scouting reports for the opposing teams.”

As the season continues to roll on, Skeen is looking forward to the challenges that await her and the Lady Wildcats and although they don't know exactly what will happen next, they know that as long as she can get across half court and get open she will always keep them in the fight.