McKay finds basketball success in Europe

Myles McKay lives by one motto and everyone seems to know it.

McKay

“I can’t accept anyone working harder than me,” said McKay, who as a senior last year led the men’s basketball team to the second round of the NCAA tournament. “I can’t accept it. Hard work is everything to me.”

Not a bad motto for where it has taken him: It got him a Division I basketball scholarship out of high school.

It then gave him a new opportunity at UW-Whitewater two years ago after transferring from UW-Milwaukee.

But this is ultimately the approach that has taken him to the Czech Republic to play professionally for the USK Praha, a team based in Prague, the country’s capital.

“I’m living out my dreams,” McKay said through his skype, a device that helps him communicate with family members in the United States. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m 23 years old, and I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”

And he has already made the most of his opportunity as he leads his new team after five contests in scoring with 30 points per game, three-point percentage at 44.4 percent, assists with four per contest and minutes played.

He also led Praha, which includes only two United States born players, in scoring with 32 points in a four-point loss last Saturday.
McKay said the European game is different, but he never makes excuses.

“When I first got over here, there were things I had to get adjusted to,” said McKay, who also learned a new culture and language. “But I’ve adjusted and I’ve adapted. Whatever I have to do to win, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Matt Goodwin, who joined the UW-Whitewater program at the same time McKay did, said he has taken notice of what his former teammate has accomplished.

“I’m very happy for him as it’s an athlete’s life long dream to go pro,” Goodwin said. “Myles is a hard worker and a self motivator.”

But since Division III athletes are not usually the ones to make a splash in the professional ranks, how did McKay put himself in this position after not seeing the court much as a freshman or sophomore at UW-M and after posting seven turnovers in his first game at UW-Whitewater in 2007?

It’s back to his motto:

“I never stopped working,” McKay said. “I do everything to put myself in the best position. I didn’t get here off pure talent. I was never the most talented guy, but hard work definitely pays off.”

This dedication was on display throughout his senior year as he led the conference in scoring with 20.2 points per game and was the emotional leader on last season’s 23-6 team.

UW-Whitewater head coach Pat Miller, who pinpointed McKay’s transformation from his junior to his senior season as a turning point, knew the former All-American had the intangibles to move to the next level.

And it’s something McKay prides himself on.

“I think what has separated Myles is he’s worked harder than anyone else in achieving his potential,” Miller said. “We’ve had players in our program more talented than him, that didn’t have near the work ethic. But he’s certainly very talented.”

And McKay used his work ethic and talents when he decided to pursue his dream.

He competed in the Eurobasket Summer League in Las Vegas, where he competed against Division I and Division II collegiate players as well as other professional athletes who were all trying to impress International scouts and agents.

McKay, coming from a Division III school, didn’t know what to expect. But after he was named co-MVP of the league, scouts began to take notice and many labeled him the “biggest surprise” and a future NBA prospect.

Although McKay, who signed with an agent in August, has started off his professional career with a bang, he doesn’t want to talk about the NBA.

“I would get off track,” he said. “I have to concentrate on what I have to do to prepare myself to get better. If I don’t play well, I’m going nowhere. I’ll be back in the States, for sure.”

However, since the European basketball season, which started Oct. 3, is much longer than the Division III schedule being 44 games and runs until at least April 17, McKay won’t be back anytime soon.

Not a bad deal if McKay – who said he might have a little break during Christmas to return – did not have a special someone seven time zones away.

But McKay has a 3-year-old son, Matthew, who is now being raised by McKay’s parents.

While the former Menomonee Falls High School graduate said it was a difficult choice, he knew there was only one choice.

“Ultimately the hardest part is being away from my family and my son,” McKay said. “Yes, I’m not going to see everything. It’s a tough decision and at the same time I have to do what I have to do. We do video chatting, so I’m still able to see him.”

But McKay – who thanked Miller and the entire coaching staff for giving him the opportunity to showcase his talents at UW-Whitewater numerous times in the 25-minute interview – wants to do it in person in the near future.

“Whitewater, as a whole, has helped me out in my career,” McKay said. “If I’m able to come back to the states, I’m going to make sure I come to a game. No matter how far I go, Whitewater will always be in my heart.”

A motto everyone knows he also lives by.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email