In the end, Iowa State just wouldn't go away.
Spurned by Jameel McKay last summer when McKay announced his decision to go to Marquette, head coach Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones didn't waste any time re-recruiting McKay when he transferred from Marquette on Oct. 17, flying to McKay's home town of Milwaukee frequently the last few weeks to make their pitch.
The 6-foot-8 McKay rewarded the Cyclones for their persistence Tuesday, making clear his intent to transfer to Iowa State.
"What it came down to was Iowa State's loyalty to me — they had been down there every week since I decided to transfer, three or four times," McKay told AllCyclones. "My relation to Iowa State, I'm familiar with the things that go on there."
Iowa State was written off by some with McKay's departure from Marquette, as the Cyclones do not have an available scholarship to offer McKay, who will move to Ames in late December. The other schools after McKay had a scholarship — Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona were the perceived early front-runners — as did Gonzaga, which McKay was slated to visit this upcoming weekend, Nov. 8-10, followed by an official visit to Iowa State the weekend of Nov. 17 for the Cyclones' game against Michigan.
In studying Gonzaga's roster, though, it struck McKay playing hard might be hard to come by. Of the seven players listed as forwards or centers, three are freshman and two are sophomores. The fact he had transferred from Marquette because of a deep frontcourt fresh in his mind, McKay called up Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and told him he wouldn't be taking an official visit and was no longer considering the Bulldogs.
"I decided a couple days ago that I wasn't going to any longer take the visit because of the strength of the roster," McKay said. "It didn't fit what I was expecting for my next school."
Having to pay for his spring 2014 tuition (around $10,642 for a non-resident and $4,407 for a resident) along with housing and books is a major sacrifice, and an uncommon one for a sought-after recruit, but McKay simply views it as an investment. He notes Hoiberg's 10-year NBA career and his position in the Minnesota T'Wolves' front office — league ties that can help a player in the pre- and post-draft process.
"I put it like this: I'm willing to sacrifice money that I'm gonna have to pay for this semester to make more money in the long run," McKay said. "In order for me to make the most money possible, Iowa State was the best place for me to go."'
McKay will be put on the scholarship books by summer of 2014.
McKay says Hoiberg wants him to be a "mismatch" in his wide-open offense.
"Just like he used Royce White, Will [Cylburn] or even Georges [Niang]," McKay said. "I'm the same mode of player."
White and Clyburn are a few of the notable players to transfer to Iowa State since Hoiberg arrived in 2010.
Texted Barret Peery, McKay's coach at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa: "Jameel is a very active athlete, runs the floor very well [and is] a SPECIAL offensive rebounder. He Knows how to play and plays very hard. Defends multiple positions and is extremely competitive."
His roundabout process complete, McKay will sit out the 2013-14 season and the fall portion of the '14-15 year, then will have year and half of eligibility, through the '15-16 season, finally able to suit up for Iowa State.
"It's where I want to be," McKay said.