Updated: Oct 26, 2021
In its second rendition, the 2021 Border League boosted a plethora of talented players and teams from around the nation. Border League’s premier bracket, GEICO Top Flight Invite, has become one of the most anticipated preseason high school tournaments. In an action-packed weekend at Coronado High School in Las Vegas, Nev., Pro Insight was on-hand to cover the showcase and caught up with Corona Centennial (CA) guard Jared McCain.
McCain was excellent throughout the weekend and pulled out all of the stops as a scorer, crafty finisher and floor general to help lead Corona Centennial to multiple victories amidst the talented Top Flight bracket. Looking to repeat as CIF Open Division champions in 2022, Corona Centennial looks poised to go the distance led by the talented trio of McCain, New Mexico commit Donovan Dent, and fellow junior Devin Williams.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, McCain discussed his background, his recruitment update, what motivates him, his off-court interests, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Jared McCain, from Corona, California:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?
Jared McCain: I was born and raised in Sacramento, California, and moved to Corona in eighth grade and since then my support system has been my family...my brothers. My older brother [Jayce] plays at Cal State-San Marcos right now and he’s a big part of my decision in anything that I do. My trainer Shea, he’s been there since eighth grade since I moved out here. Just been hanging with the same group for a while now.
PI: Aside from Jayce, any other athletes in your family?
JM: My dad graduated from Texas Tech, but he also played at Midland College with Spud Webb. I got a lot of my stuff from him and my mom was a track star [in high school].
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
JM: Yeah I played football when I was younger, I was a wide receiver, and I played soccer. I probably would still be playing soccer if the seasons didn’t combine. I really like soccer.
PI: When did you stop playing soccer?
JM: I took a break around fifth grade and I played in seventh grade. After that year is when it started to get real heavy for basketball. I also played baseball when I was younger. I actually have a poster that says “I want to be an MLB player.” That was my first dream, it wasn’t basketball, it was baseball. I actually got hit in the genitals [early in my baseball career] because I had no cup on [laughs]. I was like four years old and playing up, so it was a rough time for me. I had to drop the sport then and make a business decision [laughs].
PI: What position did you play in soccer?
JM: I was a left defender. I’m left-footed, I’m ambidextrous. I eat and write left, most everything I do left except shoot. I broke my left thumb so I started shooting with my right hand and I guess that’s how it came about. Naturally I’m left-handed, but I shoot right-handed.
PI: Describe your game — what are your strengths?
JM: I think I can shoot the ball really well at a consistent level. I think my IQ is really high. Shooting ability coming off screens, catch-and-shoot, off the dribble. So yeah, that’s basically my game.
PI: What do you feel like are some areas of improvement?
JM: I feel like off the ball defense I can be more locked in, even on the ball as well. I’ve been working on my hips, been stretching a lot and just trying to get into that stance still. But yeah defense and ball-handling can always be improved, finishing like floaters, especially for college.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game you don’t get enough credit for?
JM: I feel like my passing ability. The way I see the floor is a little bit different so I feel like that’s one of my underrated attributes.
PI: You’re a hard-nosed guard — where does that mentality come from?
JM: I think it really just comes from playing against my brother when I was younger and always losing. I’ve always been playing with a chip on my shoulder since I was younger. When all of these rankings come out I just continue to play with a chip on my shoulder. I continue to play like I’m the best guard in the country because that’s how I feel I am.
PI: What are you currently ranked?
JM: Depends on the site. Rivals I’m 16th, ESPN I’m 29th, and 247 I’m 33rd, I believe.
PI: What’s your mentality towards rankings?
JM: People say you shouldn’t care about it, but you definitely take notice. It motivates me. I put the rankings on my wall just to always remind myself that I’m not number-one so I’ve got to continue to go after that number-one spot.
PI: Describe this past summer in EYBL — what were you able to show coaches and scouts?
JM: At that point I didn’t get to show my PG ability, but at Peach Jam I got to play it a lot more and I feel like I got to show everyone what I could really do. I feel like no one really knew, some knew about me, but they didn’t know exactly. At Peach Jam I feel like I was able to show what I can do.
PI: What are your short term goals coming into this season?
JM: State championship is obviously the main goal. I’ve got the CIF [sectional] right and I need the state championship ring. I’ve got to go back to back CIF and then win the state championship. That’s my main goal, always.
PI: What are some of your long term goals?
JM: I’ve got it written down on my wall — it’s obviously to get drafted, hear my name on draft night. But before that just get to a college that really fits me and win a national championship there, that’s obviously the main goal for college. Then getting drafted and being able to take care of my family and everyone around me. That’s really the main goal for me.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
JM: Yeah, Gonzaga talking with them consistently; Villanova reached out recently, Houston is always in the mix; Louisville, Texas Tech, Duke just reached out on Friday. Everyone is just kind of talking right now. We did officials at Louisville and Houston. This season I’m focused on the season so I won’t do any visits during the season, but after the season we’ll look to go around the country to take visits and see everything.
PI: How surreal is it to be getting this much college attention?
JM: It’s a blessing. When I was younger this was what I dreamed of, to get calls from coaches and head coaches you dream of talking to. These moments are surreal and going to a college is a blessing. I love it. I love every part of it.
PI: Are you surprised you’re at this point or did you always feel like your time was going to come?
JM: Yeah it’s a little bit of both. I mean for myself I feel like I work very hard so the hard work is paying off and it’s very rewarding, but it also motivates me to continue to work hard. It’s definitely surprising sometimes just to hear some coaches actually call you. You never think someone will contact you and they actually do so sometimes it’s surprising for sure. It’s funny sometimes I’ve got to answer calls that don’t say a number and I’m like this could be a scam for getting my social security number or Kentucky or Duke, or something [laughs].
PI: What are you looking for in your school of choice?
JM: Just that family atmosphere where they’ll take care of me. I don’t want them to promise me a starting spot, I want to be able to work for that. So just being able to work for everything I got and the family atmosphere to take care of me even when times are tough and I’m having bad games. Just to take care of me in that aspect as well. Where I feel at home.
PI: Who have you been leaning on throughout the recruitment for advice? What type of advice have they shared with you?
JM: Yeah, my brother is a huge person for me to go to for college because he’s been paying attention to it for so long. Also Devin Askew, I’m very tight with that family. So his process, I’ve been talking with him and his dad about that. I train with his little brother like five days a week. So I’m always talking to them.
PI: How good is Devin’s little brother?
JM: He’s looking real nice. He’ll be on the come up for sure, he’s working hard. He’s going to be a freshman next year.
PI: Nowadays there are various pro options outside of college such as the G-League, OTE, overseas — what are your thoughts on that?
JM: It’s cool I’m able to get paid at that time. With NIL it’s cool colleges are able to pay, but I’m just weighing out every option. Nothing is canceled right now. Just taking everything in.
PI: How do you see your role at the next level?
JM: I feel it’s a PG who can score…a combo guard. I can shoot the ball as I said and just being able to space the floor in that aspect.
PI: If you were to pursue a career outside of basketball — what would you be drawn to?
JM: Probably business. I have my own clothing brand and I have a few orders of that so that’s pretty cool to see, especially with my face on it [logo is his face]. It’s cool to see people wearing your logo and stuff, but something in business. Even an agent is something I might pursue, something in sports. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Sometimes the pay is not as good as some people like it, but teaching like second grade or something like that would be really cool.
PI: Is serving in the community and helping kids something that’s really important to you?
JM: I would like to be doing stuff like that more often. Just giving back to the youth and showing them that hard work really does pay off. So it’s definitely something I want to look at more.
PI: Outside of basketball, what are some of your hobbies?
JM: I love Disney, it’s my number-one. I need to get the annual pass right now. TikTok, I’m on there a little bit — I like dancing and that’s part of it. Hanging out with my girlfriend. My hobbies are very slim, just having a good time and hanging with my family.
PI: Which Disney characters do you feel you most identify with?
JM: That’s tough...I feel like I resonate with Pluto. Just that happy personality, dancing around, bouncing on his paws, but yeah Pluto is just some positive energy. Him and Mickey, always.
PI: If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed — what three personal items would you bring?
JM: Does my phone count? [interviewer nods affirmatively], okay so my phone. I’m also bringing my girlfriend...I’ve already got my phone where I can watch Netflix...man that’s a rough one...you can’t really bounce a ball so probably a soccer ball. Let’s go with a soccer ball — you can’t dribble a ball, but you can kick it. Kick it around with my girlfriend and have a good time on the beach.
PI: At the end of the day, when you’re done playing, what do you hope to be remembered for on and off the court?
JM: Just my hard work. I feel like I’ve put in a lot of time into this sport so just to be remembered like even if I have a bad game to know that he's still putting in work. Just a hard worker, that’s what I want to be remembered by.