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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Mad Ants guard Trey McKinney-Jones is hoping to get experience with the ball in his hands this season.

Ants guard looks to shoot down misconceptions

Trey McKinney-Jones knows the scouting report says he’s a shooter and only a shooter.

But he’s confident that’s going to change this season with the Mad Ants.

“Not too many NBA teams know I can do anything other than shoot,” said McKinney-Jones, a 23-year-old rookie out of Miami. “My goal is to come out and show I’m not just a shooter, but that I’m an athlete as well. I can handle the ball and come off the screens and so forth.”

The Mad Ants have two incumbent guards who can play the point – Ron Howard and Anthony Harris – so the pressure isn’t on McKinney-Jones to be the primary ball-handler.

But he’s hoping he’ll get a chance to do that with Fort Wayne, which opens its season Friday at Texas.

“At Miami, I was strictly a shooter, but I grew up playing point guard,” said McKinney-Jones, who hails from Milwaukee, where he averaged 15 points, 6 assists and 5.7 rebounds as a senior at South Milwaukee High School in 2007-08.

“I’ve been talking to (Mad Ants assistant) coach (Steve) Gansey and if they need me at point guard, they may use me some there and that’s good for me. It would raise my stock.”

McKinnney-Jones spent the first two years of his collegiate career at Missouri-Kansas City, averaging 10.9 points as a sophomore in 2009-10, before sitting out a year because of the NCAA’s transfer rules. Last season with Miami, he helped the Hurricanes to the ACC title and averaged 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

As proof of his athleticism there’s this: In high school, he won back-to-back triple-jump state championships, was a runner-up in the long jump and turned down track scholarships.

The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks had McKinney-Jones, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, in training camp before he came to Fort Wayne.

“Being here is going to give me a chance to gain a lot of experience,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing I took from going to training camp with the Bucks is that I needed to get experience. (Mad Ants head coach Conner Henry) is a great coach and I’m learning a lot from him. He’s letting me play and be myself.

“It was an unfortunate situation in Milwaukee in which they had 15 guaranteed contracts already. They said I deserved to play. … They said they would be keeping an eye on me, but I needed to get someplace where I would be playing. And that’s here.”

The Mad Ants pared their roster down to 13 players Monday by releasing Brandon Beasley, a rookie out of William Penn, and Matt Humphrey, a rookie out of West Virginia. The active roster is to be 10 players by the season opener.

With such a competitive training camp – the Mad Ants are coming off their first playoff berth – McKinney-Jones will do anything to make the team, but he hopes that will include more than just shooting the ball.

He conceded that getting back in the habit of being a ball-handler will come with some growing pains.

“It is tough to do after not having the ball in your hands every day, every play, for a few years. But it comes back with practice,” he said. “If I do it every once in awhile in practice, and do it in games every once in a while, it’ll come back to me. But the shooting is still there and if all else fails, I’ll be knocking down shots.”

jcohn@jg.net

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