“From a small farm town in North Carolina to the home of the world’s most famous city” is certainly something you don’t hear every day. To most of us it sounds like a wild dream, but for one young man, that wild dream is reality.
HCA basketball star Quate Mckinzie officially committed to The State University of New York at Buffalo on Monday. Mckinzie is heading into his senior season and his third as a Crusader, having transferred from Pender High School after his freshman year. The 6’8” big man from Burgaw has 734 career points over two seasons at HCA, and is well on his way to breaking every major basketball record at the school.
Mckinzie has accumulated many honors in green and gold. Number 24 is a two-time member of the Coastal Rivers Conference All-Conference team. In February, Mckinzie was voted to the CRC All-Tournament team, and won the CRC Tournament MVP award.
“Q,” as he is called by friends and family, also won the CRC Player of the Year and earned a very deserving spot on the NCISAA 2A All-State team. Mckinzie has also helped lead HCA to back-to-back appearances in the state semifinals. For the class of 2016, Mckinzie is ranked 40th out of every power forward in the country by ESPN. And that’s before he even begins his final high school season.
Around noon on Monday, Mckinzie stood at the podium in Newkirk Auditorium in front of his friends, family, teammates, coaches, and fellow students. While he usually lets his actions on the court speak for him, it was time for the Burgaw native to say a few words.
“I want to give thanks to my family, to my mother, without all her sacrifices, I probably would not be here right now,” said Mckinzie.
“To my brothers, cousins, and uncles for keeping me on track and focused, I’m really thankful for that.”
Mckinzie then went on to thank his coaches, Clayton and Nolan Hall, for showing him a lot of wisdom and teaching him a lot.
As for his teammates, both current and former, Mckinzie had nothing but words of love and praise. The Crusader standout expressed his gratitude to them for not only helping him improve on the court, but for their friendship and brotherhood. “I wouldn’t be the person or player I am today without ya’ll.”
In closing, Mckinzie thanked the HCA student body for taking him in, saying, with a smile, “I’ve enjoyed my time at Harrells.”
After finishing his quick speech, Mckinzie proudly declared his commitment to Buffalo, unveiling a framed UB jersey on stage. When the crowd’s applause ended, Mckinzie embraced his mom, his brother, teammates, and his “second family,” the Halls/Fussells.
Holding his 19-month old daughter, HCA head coach Clayton Hall looked on with a smile as Mckinzie posed for photos. “I’m excited for him,” said Hall. “Kids start out with dreams, it’s great when you see them come true.” Later Monday night, Mckinzie sent out a tweet once again thanking everyone, declaring it “one of the best days of his life.”
While most people in Mckinzie’s place would be too excited about the future to be worried with the here and now, he knows that there’s still work to be done at HCA. Mckinzie still has classes to finish. Mckinzie has a stage to walk across in a cap and gown come May. And Mckinzie still has one final season as a Crusader. His goal? To wear a state championship ring when he steps on the campus of University at Buffalo in the fall.