Pac-12 Senior Days: Arizona State’s Shaquille McKissic

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 7th, 2015

One year ago this week, Arizona State hosted California on Senior Day. Small forward Shaquille McKissic was honored, as were five other Sun Devil seniors. They dominated the Golden Bears on that afternoon, but the team would go on to lose its final four games. The last of those came in the Sun Devils’ NCAA Tournament opener, a game that was lost on a last second putback against Texas. You may have seen the heartbreaking pictures.

Heartbreak.

Heartbreak.

McKissic decided that he didn’t want his career to end that way. He and the university petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, and on April 18, the word from Indianapolis came back. Because of McKissic’s unique situation — mainly stemming from his time at Edmonds Community College — the NCAA gave him another chance. A second chance to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. A second chance to impress any professional scouts that might be watching. And a second Senior Day, coming once again on a Saturday against California.

The sixth year senior’s story is full of second chances. McKissic blew an opportunity at attending Northern Idaho, one of the country’s premier junior college programs, when he was arrested for breaking into a home. He spent three months in jail and ended up having to play his 2009-10 season in Lynwood, Washington. The small forward thrived at Edmonds, averaging 16.2 PPG. Things began to fall apart once the season ended, however, as he was left homeless when his mother and younger brother moved across the country. And worst of all, his best friend Devin Topps was shot and killed at a Halloween party on October 31, 2010.

McKissic took the next two years off from basketball to get his life in order when blow after blow kept hitting him. He returned to Edmonds in 2012, wearing No. 40 in Topps’ honor, and dominated there, earning MVP honors in the North Region of the NWAACC while averaging 22.5 PPG and 9.9 RPG. Little did he know that his play had captured the attention of Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek, who was about to give him the second chance he so desperately needed. Sure, McKissic had a troubled past but Sendek saw a humble player and person, and the coach decided to offer him a scholarship. The decision turned out to be one of the best he has made during his time in Tempe.

Able To Play Anywhere From The Two Through Four Spots While At Edmonds CC, McKissc Drew The Attention Of Sendek And Arizona State. (NWAC Sports)

Coming into last season, no one really knew who was going to provide balance in the Sun Devils’ offense to go along with point guard Jahii Carson. McKissic, who was still a relatively unknown JuCo transfer, ended up being that guy. He combined with Carson and shooting guard Jermaine Marshall to power one of the most explosive offenses in the Pac-12, leading the Sun Devils to a third place finish in the conference and a #10 seed in the Big Dance. Carson and Marshall left after last year, however, leaving the 24-year old as the face of a squad full of newcomers. He has embraced the role perfectly. Leading the team with 11.5 PPG, his ability to ignite a run or get Arizona State out of an offensive funk has been critical. One of his best performances occured the last time he took the court, coming on Thursday night in a win against Stanford. McKissic scored 23 points, grabbing seven rebounds and also providing one helluva highlight.

Today, McKissic will play his final regular season game as a Sun Devil. There is no happiness without something to forget, and after a Senior Day ceremony last March that was filled with the uncertainty of whether his waiver would be approved, he will get to enjoy this one with the two graduating players on the roster. In a perfect world, they would beat the Golden Bears for a second straight year, make some noise in the Pac-12 Tournament, and solidify an invitation to the NIT. For a person whose world has been far from perfect throughout his life, that would be a nice way to end a college career. That way, maybe, he could get a third chance at a final home game in Wells Fargo Arena. For someone with so many second chances in his life, it would only be fitting.

Connor Pelton (300 Posts)

I’m from Portland. College basketball and football is life.


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