WATERTOWN – There’s a fire that burns inside of Watertown-Mayer’s Will McBee. On the court, fans watched all season long as the senior standout led the Royals to another exciting season.
While McBee has had the talent throughout his high school career, it wasn’t till recently he saw himself playing at the college level. Although he’s always wanted to play college sports, he just didn’t know where he would end up.
“It means a lot to me,” McBee said about being able to play in college. “I’m fortunate that I’ve stayed relatively healthy with my lanky frame, and I’m glad that I’ve been given the chance to pursue a college career in basketball. I always wanted to continue playing a sport in college, but I hadn’t envisioned it being basketball until this year.”
While McBee certainly caught the eye of college coaches around the state, he wasn’t sure if basketball was the road to take. Baseball has always had his heart from a young age.
“Ever since I started playing baseball when I was just four years old, I wanted to play in college,” McBee said. “Years and years of game time, extra practice, hitting with my dad, and attending a few showcases had me on a good path to becoming a college baseball player.”
While McBee had his sights set on playing college baseball, things changed for him during his junior basketball season. A breakout season for the Royals opened some doors for McBee that piqued his interest as a new love was formed with the game of basketball.
“Around the middle of my junior year in basketball, I just started to enjoy basketball a lot more and lost interest in playing baseball every day,” McBee said. “I also grew about eight inches from the summer before freshman year to my junior year, so my baseball frame quickly turned to a basketball body.”
McBee used that big frame to have a monster senior season for the Royals, averaging a double-double with 16.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. If that’s not enough, he was also fourth on the team in assists with 49.
“Will was our rock this season inside,” W-M coach Kent Janikula said. “Every team we played knew we were going to play through him. Teams scouted us to take him away. Despite that, he put up consistent numbers all season long. He is an unselfish player that makes the correct read in the post,” Janikula said. “He doesn’t force shots. When a double team came, he did a great job of finding the open man”
A big senior season put McBee on the radar for many college coaches. In the end, Minnesota Morris was the right choice for him on many levels.
“The three schools I was considering for basketball were Morris, Hamline, and Eau Claire,” McBee said. “The big thing with Morris was the University of Minnesota degree, as well as the opportunity with basketball. I’ll only be attending the college for two or three years because I have my AA degree, and Morris is giving me the best opportunity to have a big role on the team as a freshman.”
As McBee gets ready to try and contribute to the team from the start, he knows there are some things to improve on to compete at the next level.
“The biggest thing I need to work on is my confidence in being a scorer outside of the paint,” McBee said. “I’d also say I want to get more comfortable driving to my left and finishing with my left, as well as getting my legs more explosive so I can play at and above the rim more often.”
As McBee leaves W-M behind to start his college athletic career, he won’t forget those who have helped him get to where he is today.
“If there’s one coach who’s pushed me the most and made me realize that I have talent in basketball, it has to be coach (Tyler) Finkelson,” McBee said. “I never saw myself as a scorer, only someone who could rebound the ball and play defense. Finkelson helped me develop my game early on. Also, coach Jacob Wandersee has been working with me during the last three years, teaching me how to read defenses and different moves I can use to score. Coach Kent Janikula has taught me a lot on how to be a better leader. And lastly, I want to thank Tim Wabbe, who coached me several years in youth basketball and baseball. He helped me in enjoying and competing in sports. All four of these coaches have shaped me into a better player and a better person.”