Seated Sunday night at a table in the WAVY-TV 10 studios in Portsmouth, Va., Norfolk native David McCormack was asked by sports anchor Nathan Epstein to reveal his college choice.
“Next year, I’ve decided I will attend Kansas University,” McCormack, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound Oak Hill Academy senior center, said as he opened two buttons on his light-blue, short-sleeved dress shirt, displaying a T-shirt with the words “Kansas Basketball” over his chest.
“Nah, it’s too good a shirt to do that,” McCormack stated in a phone interview with The Star after the TV spot when asked if he considered tearing off the garment in Superman-like fashion.
He confessed he was the one to concoct the idea of announcing for the Jayhawks in unique fashion.
“It’s the first thing that came to mind. I kind of stuck with it,” said McCormack, who averaged 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game at Oak Hill last season and 14.8 points (on 60 percent shooting) and 9.8 rebounds for Team Loaded AAU on the adidas circuit this past spring and summer.
“It was kind of hard to find hats of six schools, but I wanted to represent the other schools,” McCormack added of announcing with hats of finalists Duke, North Carolina State and UCLA in front of him. Caps of his two other finalists, Oklahoma State and Xavier, apparently were hard to locate in Virginia sporting goods stores.
“It’s a great school, great program, great campus. I felt Kansas is the overall best fit for me personally,” added McCormack, the No. 33-ranked player in the recruiting class of 2018 according to Rivals.com.
“It was a tough decision. It came down to the wire, but I felt that coach (Bill) Self, coach (Jerrance) Howard, the student body, the relationships I have would be best for me and best for the long run. There’s a lot of history behind Kansas. I'm looking forward to making more championships and more memories at Kansas.”
McCormack, who made an unofficial visit to KU on Aug. 22 and will be in Lawrence on an official visit for Saturday’s Late Night in the Phog, is the second Oak Hill player in as many years to commit to KU. He played next to 6-10, 240-pound KU freshman Billy Preston last year in the Oak Hill frontcourt. Oak Hill is located in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
“I know him well. Billy is one of my boys,” McCormack said, acknowledging “there’s no way of telling” if Preston will be at KU as a sophomore.
Preston, in fact, is expected to be a one-and-done at KU.
“Billy is a great great player. He’s an amazing athlete,” McCormack added, noting he also has met former KU guard Frank Mason, who played for his Team Loaded AAU program, but doesn't know him well.
McCormack is the second player — and second big man — to commit to KU in the recruiting class of 2018. The Jayhawks on Aug. 30 received an oral commitment from No. 25-ranked Silvio De Sousa, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound senior forward from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
McCormack has 40 pounds on De Sousa.
“He (McCormack) was about 295 last year, he’s 255 now,” Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith told Zagsblog.com. “He’s got a great body now. That has helped him tremendously. He’s more mobile now. He plays above the rim instead of below the rim. His shot has improved to 17 feet. He’s inside presence on both sides of the floor. He’s going to be a really, really good college player. I’ve got to give him credit because he lost weight but he’s the guy who changed his diet and lost the weight and it changed him into a much better player.”
McCormack, who played for Norfolk (Va.) Academy as a sophomore before transferring to Oak Hill, acknowledged to The Star he’s worked hard on his body.
“As far as my diet, I eat no fast foods. It’s all carbs and things like that. That’s what really sets me apart from other kids my age,” McCormack said, noting, “I feel much lighter. I feel I can move quicker.”
The future journalism major — he wants to be a sports announcer someday — once described his game as “big” to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kentucky at one point was involved in his recruitment as well as Maryland, Georgetown, Baylor, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, VCU and others.
“I can play the outside game to an extent. I know my bread and butter is inside,” he said Sunday. “I’m looking forward to playing as a freshman and giving forth whatever I can bring to the team.”
““He’ll do what you ask him to do,” Smith told USA Today. “He has a great attitude and he’s a great student. He’s a big guy and there’s not many 5-men who want to play down low. Dave knows what he is and goes to work.”
KU now has filled two spots in what should be a huge recruiting class. The Jayhawks currently have 12 scholarship players on the 2017-18 roster, one under the limit of 13. The Jayhawks will definitely lose seniors Devonté Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, figure to lose Malik Newman, Udoka Azubuike and Preston to the NBA Draft and could lose Lagerald Vick to the pros as well.
KU’s frontcourt next season will definitely include recent commit De Sousa and McCormack as well as Mitch Lightfoot and Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson, a 6-9, 230-pound junior regarded as one of the top forwards in college basketball last season.
McCormack’s mom, Janine, attended Sunday’s announcement and appeared on the TV show.
“This means the world to me. I’m so proud of David and this was really a struggle with this decision with all these schools. I support my son 100 percent. I think he made a wonderful decision going to the next level.”