High school notebook: Blackhawk's McKay not surprised by steep fall



It wasn't so much ability that dropped Blackhawk pitcher Brendan McKay in the Major League Baseball draft last week. It was "signability."

To be more precise, McKay wanted more money than teams apparently thought he was worth.

McKay, one of the best pitchers in WPIAL history, was projected to be selected in the top 10 rounds of the draft. Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia said indications were McKay might be taken in the top five rounds. At least one major league team had him rated at one time as a possible third-round pick.

But McKay wasn't selected until the 34th round by the San Diego Padres.

McKay's draft story had some twists and turns. His family and an advisor let teams know before the draft that his price tag to sign would be high. They figured it would take a lot to pull him away from playing next year at the University of Louisville. At one point last Friday somewhere between rounds seven and 10, the Boston Red Sox called McKay while he was at graduation ceremonies and wanted to know if his "price tag" was still the same.

McKay said yes and the Red Sox bypassed him. When asked if the family would change their strategy if they could do the draft over again, McKay's father, Bruce, said, "Probably not. We are thinking that everything works out for a reason. We took a shot. We said this is what it is going to take for him to forgo Louisville. It had to be a substantial amount for Brendan not to go to Louisville."

Bruce McKay didn't want to reveal the asking price to sign, but acknowledged it was well into six figures.

Nowadays, there are assigned pick values for draft picks. According to Baseball America, the assigned pick value for the first pick in the third round is $748,600 and $375,500 for the first pick in the fifth round. Most of the second-round picks are slotted to receive more than $1 million or close to it.

"We made the dollar amount fairly high and I think the issue became that they didn't want to pay him that much or take him in the early rounds and they took some other kids," Bruce McKay said. "I think the issue after that was signability.

"We knew the dollar amount we were asking might scare some teams away. I think four teams still called us Wednesday [the day before the draft]. One team did call the second day of the draft and wanted to know if our dollar amount was still the same. But Brendan wanted to stick with what he said."

However, there are instances in which teams save money on some picks and can pay more than the assigned value. Although it is unlikely that McKay will sign with the Padres, his father said Brendan has not totally ruled out the possibility because the Padres have yet to make an offer.

McKay, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound left-hander, finished his career with a 30-2 record and had a streak of 721/3 scoreless innings at one point. The streak ties for the second longest in U.S. high school baseball history.

Division I material

Division I football players and Apollo-Ridge High School don't go hand in hand. But the Vikings have a player with a major-college future.

Senior receiver/defensive back Tre Tipton (6-1, 170) has some Division I scholarship offers. In fact, a few weeks ago Tipton made a verbal commitment to Toledo, then backed out of the commitment the next day, saying he should have waited to make a decision.

Since then, Pitt and Michigan State have offered him. Mid-American Conference schools Massachusetts and Ohio also have offered.

Runner to QB?

Woodland Hills junior Miles Sanders is projected to be one of the top running backs in the WPIAL this season. He has been a starter since his freshman year and already has Division I scholarship offers.

But you could see Sanders playing some at a different position this season. In offseason workouts, Sanders (5-10, 190) has been playing quarterback at times. You would have to believe he might be a nice "wildcat" quarterback.

Sanders already has scholarship offers from Pitt, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Virginia Tech, among others.

Rowan vs. NBA prospects

Maverick Rowan will be a junior at Lincoln Park, but he recently got a chance to measure his talents against some top international players who are hoping to be selected June 26 in the NBA draft.

Rowan, a 6-7 guard who already has accepted a scholarship to Pitt, was selected to play for a U.S. team in the Adidas Eurocamp June 7-9 in Treviso, Italy. It was a big honor for Rowan to be selected because the U.S. team included some of the top juniors and seniors in the country, including 7-foot junior Thon Maker of Martinsville, Va.

The U.S. team played three games and lost all three by an average of 78 points. It wasn't a surprise because the team played against older international players, including some who could be selected by NBA teams.

"I learned to play overseas, you have to be a lot more physical," Rowan said. "There is just more physicality compared to the NBA."

Really? More physical than the NBA?

"You watch LeBron James. He gets touched, he flops and gets a foul called," Rowan said. "The competition over there was just a lot more physical. Like, when they set screens, they move a little on the screen and bump you harder. And if you went to the hoop, you weren't getting a call."

Overall, Rowan said it was "a great experience." He believes he played against "five or six NBA draft picks." The U.S. team was coached by former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse. After going scoreless in the first game, Rowan scored 13 points in each of the next two games.

"The first game, I played only 13 minutes and didn't really get into the flow," he said. "The second and third game, I thought I played pretty well."

Schwartz a "Dreamer"

Shaler's Brianna Schwartz is considered possibly the best distance runner in the history of the WPIAL. But her reputation stretches across the country.

Schwartz received quite an honor when she was asked to participate in the girls Adidas Dream Mile Saturday night in New York. The event was by invitation only. The Dream Mile included only nine other runners across the country.

Schwartz has the top times in WPIAL history in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.

Where are they now?

The NCAA Division I track and field championships this past week brought about a rather unusual occurrence concerning two runners from the WPIAL.

William & Mary's Elaina Balouris and Syracuse's Margo Malone competed in the finals of the 10,000 meters. You'll have a hard time finding the last time two athletes who attended high schools so close to each other and then competed against each other in an NCAA Division I final.

Balouris is a graduate of Hampton and Malone a graduate of North Hills. Their schools are only 9 miles apart and five years ago Malone finished second and Balouris third at the WPIAL cross country championship.

At the NCAA championships Thursday in Eugene, Ore., Balouris, a senior, finished fifth to earn All-American honors. Malone, a sophomore, placed 19th.

Also at the NCAA championships:

* Tori Paterra, a graduate of Elizabeth Forward who is now a senior at Miami (Ohio), finished third in the women's javelin.

* North Hills graduate Alex McCune, a junior at Akron, placed sixth in the decathlon.

Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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