The Presbyterian Christian boys’ basketball team has experienced a memorable season after winning the regular-season conference title and securing a bye for the MAIS 4A D1 Conference Tournament. Behind the success of the team is sophomore shooting guard Sam McCrary.
McCrary was born with pulmonary stenosis, which is a condition that restricts blood flow to the heart and forced McCrary to have heart surgery at a young age. However, McCrary does not dwell on that and it has not stopped him from being a positive influence on his teammates, which is something PCS and coach Josh Dorman respects.
“He probably doesn't understand the impact that he is having,” Dorman said. “Whether it’s words of encouragement, his positive nature, his upbeat demeanor or his work ethic. All of those are things that everybody else on the team is seeing out of him, and we’re not seeing that 25 percent of the time or 50 percent of the time. You see that every time he walks out on to the floor.”
McCrary’s positivity is something many recognize about him and why so many people are drawn to his friendly nature. In a few instances, he’s left an impact on people in a greater scheme.
Junior forward Skylar Hill moved from Georgia two years ago, and had a difficult time adjusting until he met McCrary.
“He really helped me my freshman year playing the first year on varsity,” Hill said. “He’s really helped me keep my head up when times have been down and being a great teammate. He just made everything much easier than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be super hard just moving here (and) starting to play basketball with people I had no idea who they were. But he just embraced me and he just said, ‘Let’s just go have fun together. It’s basketball. Just play and have fun.’ From right then I knew this guy was pretty great.”
In another instance, junior guard T.J. Hogan remembers a moment earlier in the season where McCrary’s encouragement and personality proved to be crucial for Hogan in PCS’ buzzer-beater win against Jackson Prep.
“Two point nine seconds at the end of the game,” Hogan said. “ It’s 36-36. Sam had been telling me the whole game, ‘We got this. Keep going hard. Keep pushing through.’ We ran a play. It didn’t work out, but I dished it to the wing. [Jakarie Love] hits a 3-pointer from 25 feet and we win the game by three. Had Sam never told me that I honestly don’t know if we would have won.”
McCrary, however, does not remember the moment. For McCrary, it’s just part of his regular routine.
“I don’t remember that exactly,” McCrary said. “I just try to be my normal self and be a good friend. I carry that to basketball, too, and being a good teammate and friend.”
More than a month ago, McCrary saw action against Oak Forest Academy. McCrary was able to get in and score on his third shot attempt. What was remarkable to see is the eruption that unfolded from not only his teammates but from the student section and PCS fans.
Although McCrary stays humble, his ability to connect with people and constant positive attitude has left impressions on multiple people. As Dorman explains, that has been essential for his team.
“That leadership, that he probably doesn’t understand, is a role that he plays sometimes (and) is paramount in all of our guys joining together,” Dorman said. “Sam’s a glue guy. He brings everybody together and he makes them all join together.”
“It’s just a regular day to him,” Hogan said. “That’s just what he does. Sam is a superstar. He is amazing. He’s selfless, not selfish.”
Despite McCrary’s ability to inspire others, McCrary says his focus is to just do his part and help the team in any way he can. For McCrary, the best way he could leave his mark in his time at PCS is by being a part of the basketball team’s first-ever state championship.
“That’s what I want to do before I graduate,” McCrary said. “I’m glad people notice that, but I don’t really care if I get noticed. I’m just trying to do my job and help this team win.”
McCrary and the Bobcats will start postseason play on Friday in the conference tournament hosted by Madison Ridgeland Academy.