Cougar Men Have a Sharp Shooter
Feb. 10, 2001
In his first two years at Westchester High School in Los Angeles, Jerry McNair felt like a little fish in a big pond.
'I was on a team full of superstars and I was just thrown into the shuffle,' McNair said. 'I had a good passion for basketball and I wanted to play at the next level. I knew I needed to make a change.'
That change came prior to McNair's junior year when he was able to persuade his parents, Jerry and Michelle, to let him transfer to South Torrance High School in Torrance, Calif.
'It was hard on my parents, but they knew how much I loved basketball,' McNair said. 'They weren't just listening to me. Other people were telling them how much of an opportunity I had.'
So, McNair's parents moved Jerry into an apartment in Torrance and paid the rent. For the final two year of his prep career McNair became a big fish in a little pond averaging 20 points per game his junior year and 25 points per outing during his senior season.
'I kind of made a name for myself,' McNair said. 'I was 17-year-old and all the decisions in my life were up to me. I think it helped me grow up.'
Following his high school career, McNair enrolled at Fullerton College in Fullerton, Calif. He played one year there, averaging 15 points per game. After a redshirt year, McNair became a Cougar.
'I played one year and then sat out a year so I would have three years of eligibility when I transferred to a four-year school,' McNair said. 'I thought I had produced and shown what I could do at the college level.'
Recruited by Washington State assistant coach Gary Stewart, McNair chose WSU because of the challenge and exposure of the Pacific-10 Conference.
'On my recruiting trip I fell in love with Pullman,' McNair said. 'It's a little different from southern California, but I like the environment and everything WSU has to offer.'
The transition from southern California to the Palouse was made easier for McNair because he did not make the trek alone. Last January, McNair married Heather Raco, who he met in junior college.
'That was the hardest part about moving away from home,' McNair said. 'I had to think about her coming here too. I have been on my own since I was 17, but now I had to consider someone else's life. She is enrolling at WSU next fall.'
McNair now finds himself as part of a Cougar program in transition under second year head coach Paul Graham.
The Cougars junior college recruiting class was ranked as the fifth-best in the country by Clark Francis of Hoop Scoop.
'We are a very young basketball team,' Graham said. 'Jerry McNair is a big part of that.'
Through 13 games (as of January 13) this season, McNair leads the Cougars in three-point field goal percentage at .373 and is averaging 8.4 points per game.
In WSU's 74-57 win at Idaho November 29, McNair connected on 8-of-11 from three-point range. The eight treys are one short of the school record.
'I hit my first shot that night and coach Graham left me in for a lot of minutes,' McNair said. 'I was out there having fun and I had a good night.'
Although McNair has yet to start a game as a Cougar, he has been a key reserve for WSU.
'I owe coach Graham and my teammates,' McNair said. 'I give everything I have offensively and defensively and try to prove to people that I belong in the Pac-10.'
McNair feels he is part of a program that can go places, maybe even the NCAA Tournament.
'I've never been on a winning team,' McNair said. 'People don't expect us to win. I am so used to losing that when we win it feels so good. I want more days like that. Our team goal is to move up in the Pac-10 standings and eventually make it to the NCAA Tournament.'
Although McNair has aspirations to play professionally, he is making strides toward life after basketball. A communications major, McNair wants to be a broadcaster after his playing days are over.
'I see myself starting off at the college level and working my way up to the pros as a broadcaster,' McNair said. 'If everything goes the way I plan, 10 years from now, I will have my degree, have played professionally, have a couple of kids and be broadcasting some games.'
When asked how he wants to be remembered as a player, McNair replied, 'I want people to remember my love for the game of basketball and that I was good shooter. When people think of me, I want them to say, `boy, Jerry could really shoot that ball.''
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