McCormick's star rises for Neshannock boys

Jake McCormick is turning into a consistent force for the Neshannock High boys basketball team.

A 6-foot-7 senior, McCormick made his presence felt around the basket in a pair of games last week. He tallied a game-high 33 points and added 18 rebounds in a 68-57 win at Riverside. He added 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 53-47 setback to Aliquippa.

For his performances last week, McCormick has been named the Lawrence County High School Athlete of the Week sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.

“Jake has been playing really well for us,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “For us to be as successful as I think we can be, so much of that relies on Jake being successful and playing the way he has the last couple of weeks.”

McCormick’s performances were no surprises. The big man has been delivering each game to the tune of 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds.

“I just believe we are getting a very consistent effort from Jake right now. Last year, he had some big games, but then the next one wouldn’t be as impressive,” Corey said. “The consistency he is playing with now is really important to our success. It’s great to see, night in and night out, that he is proving to us we can rely on him for big numbers and a great effort.”

McCormick, a son of Candida and John McCormick, is happy to be a steady force for Neshannock (5-2 overall), which opened its WPIAL Section 1-3A schedule with last week’s split.

“I always try to give the same effort every night,” he said. “Last year, I wasn’t too consistent. This year, I’m trying to be consistent.”

McCormick, who was Neshannock’s quarterback, has devoted most of his time to football. However, his emerging basketball skills have started to open some eyes, especially at the NCAA Division II level.

“Jake has evolved as a basketball player tremendously just over the past two months. With the football team not making the playoffs, that gave him a couple extra weeks to focus on basketball. Between Nov. 1 to where we sit now, his growth has been amazing,” Corey said. “A lot of it is the mental part of it. Jake’s focus in films and his focus when I am speaking with him on different things, it seems he is really locked in right now.

“He has good hands and feet and is still like a young pup in the game of basketball. He is good around the hoop. He has a very good stroke when shooting the basketball. Just learning the game more and more, I really believe that Jake’s ceiling in basketball is extremely high if he decides to purse a lot of the college interest he’s been recently receiving.”

McCormick, who hopes to play either football or basketball in college, has been pleased with his progress.

“I think I am getting better,” he said. “I feel like I am getting more athletic and able to finish inside and stuff like that. I definitely think I have a lot more room to grow. I need more time to develop and I think I can be really good.”

He’s worked on playing underneath the hoop, too.

“I am starting to feel like I am getting better and more effective inside (the paint). It’s something Coach Corey has really helped me out with a lot, working on my post moves and being stronger with the ball,” he said. “My teammates are starting to feed me the ball a lot more and we’re getting a lot better as a team. I don’t care how many points I score; as long as we win, that’s all I am worried about.”

In fact, just getting to the basketball is more fun than scoring.

“We have a lot of good scorers. It’s nice that we have such good depth,” McCormick said. “I think rebounding is really my favorite thing to do. You have to go get the ball and helps the team a good amount.”

McCormick hopes to be part of a deep playoff run this season.

“We didn’t have a really successful season in football and that definitely motivated me a lot more for basketball,” he said. “We’ll make the most out of this basketball season and see how far we can take it.”

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Joe Sager is a former full-time sports writer for the New Castle News and currently freelances for the News and other Western Pennsylvania newspapers.

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