By Dylan Lutey (@dylan_lutey)
Kevin McCarthy started playing basketball at his local YMCA at the age of 4.
He quickly fell in love with the game and “never looked back”.
Despite his early devotion to basketball, the notion of playing at the Division I level wasn’t always apparent. It wasn’t until he made the transition from middle school to high school that the “dream had transpired”.
On Friday, the dream was realized when the 6-4 Episcopal Academy guard announced his commitment to Army West Point, via Instagram.
“Definitely refreshing,” McCarthy said when asked about finalizing his decision. “I tried to enjoy the process and not let it be stressful, but it definitely got stressful at points.”
McCarthy received three official offers during his recruitment, which all came this past spring and summer. He chose the Black Knights over Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU) and Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU).
Episcopal Academy senior Kevin McCarthy announced his commitment to Army last week. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
There were some schools in contact with him before his junior season, but the level of production he displayed during that junior campaign was what really started his ascend.
The 6-4 guard averaged 18.2 points and 6.0 rebounds, making 64 three-pointers on 36% shooting from behind the arc. He also became the 13th player in the history of the Churchmen program to reach the 1,000-point mark, surpassing the milestone by scoring 31 points in a 71-54 win against Abington Friends.
He attributes his big season, which also led to an All Inter-Ac First Team selection, to a continued growth in confidence. McCarthy gives his former and current head coach credit for instilling this trait in him.
McCarthy started with Brian Shanahan as his head coach who got the ball rolling for him. Last season, Taylor Wright, son of former Villanova head coach Jay Wright, stepped in as interim head coach and continued to help instill belief into his standout guard.
“Coach Shanahan really helped me develop my game and just helped develop a lot of confidence in me,” McCarthy said. “Coach Wright then did the same thing, which really helped. He let me play freely, but also helps me work on my game and helps me play with a lot of confidence.”
He carried this confidence into the spring season, which was when his recruitment quickly started to pick up steam. In early April, he earned his first offer from FGCU. With one offer under his belt McCarthy’s confidence grew and he was ready to build on his success from the scholastic season. He wanted to make sure coaches who came to see him play got the full scope of everything he brought to the table.
“I wanted to focus on (continuing) to play the way I played (during the season) and show that I’m a competitive player and I compete every possession,” McCarthy said.
He did exactly that in the Hoop Group Showcase League (HGSL) with Philly Revolution. In his very first Pitt Jam Fest game he scored 28 points, showing that he was unfazed by the presence of coaches there to watch him.
“My mindset was really not to worry about the coaches watching,” McCarthy said. “Playing with my Philly Revolution teammates made it pretty easy to just focus on playing the game the right way and not really worry about who was on the sidelines.
“It was definitely a cool experience just to see all the coaches watching the game, but I really tried to stay even keeled and just focus on winning the game.”
McCarthy earned a First Team All-HGSL selection for the April live period. A successful team and individual season which ended in Revolution capturing first place in the East region, led to two more offers for the 6-4 guard: FDU on July 16 and Army on Aug. 3.
During the process, McCarthy noted that coaches from all three programs stayed in touch to some extent.
FGCU assistant coach Kevin Hudash was in touch “a little bit.” FDU head coach Jack Castleberry and assistant coach Tom Kiely were the two main coaches recruiting McCarthy for the Knights. Army head coach Kevin Kuwik, assistant coach Nick Thorsen, and assistant coach Carson Cunningham were constantly calling and contacting him.
The frequency of contact from the Black Knights’ coaching staff led to a visit for McCarthy. It was the only one he took out of the three schools. He was extremely impressed with what he learned from the coaching staff and what the school had to offer him.
“It was a high academic environment with a strong basketball program,” McCarthy said. “Coach Kuwik sat me down in his office and showed me film. (He) showed me how my play style and my game would really help impact the way he’s going to run an offense. That made me really excited about Army.
“Then just the relationship with coach Kuwik I really enjoy. Also, the opportunity to serve my country in the Army, is something I take pride in.”
There should be an opportunity for McCarthy to make an immediate impact when he arrives on campus next fall. Lead guard Jalen Rucker, who led the team with 16.6 points per game entered the transfer portal. Coleton Benson, another member of the Black Knights’ backcourt who made significant contributions averaging 11.6 points per game transferred to Texas State.
He’s one of a few local prospects as of late to commit to Army. Downingtown West product Dylan Blair is a freshman at West Point this season and Devon Prep product Jacen Holloway is at the prep school this season before joining McCarthy in next season’s 2024 class.
“My competitiveness and just me giving it 100% all the time,” McCarthy said when asked about his character traits that will allow him to carry his success to the next level. “Really just my work ethic, like all the work I do behind the scenes.”
The stress from the recruitment process may have stopped, but the work behind the scenes certainly hasn’t stopped for McCarthy. Everybody knows he can shoot it, but he wants to continue to get stronger and will key in on his ball handling with the hopes of adding more moves to his bag.
With the recruitment out of the way, McCarthy will also now turn his attention to his senior campaign with the hopes of righting the ship after finishing 1-9 in the Inter-Ac a season ago.
“I’m definitely excited for my senior season now since my commitment is out of the way,” McCarthy said. “I can really just solely focus on winning Inter-Ac games and hopefully winning an Inter-Ac title.”