IGNACIO – When Brady McCaw steps onto the court at Ignacio High School, he is reminded of what it takes to win a state championship. His father, Allen, was a center on the 1988 state championship-winning team, and the banner is on full display at the far end of the gym. McCaw is prepared to leave a legacy after what he hopes to be a final two special seasons for Ignacio boys basketball.
“When I see that banner, I’m ready to play, and it inspires me a lot,” McCaw said. “My dad is in the top right corner of the banner. He was always super good at sports, and he’s taught me a lot about life. I get excited when I look at it because it reminds me that we have a pretty good shot this year or next year to win it. I know it will take a lot of hard work and effort, and there’s still so much we can improve on, but this team has a lot of chemistry, and it’s exciting.”
McCaw has helped the Bobcats get out to a 10-2 start and the No. 5 ranking in the latest Class 2A CHSAANow.com poll. The 5-foot-10 junior is the team’s second-leading scorer with 11.3 points per game.
It’s never been easy for him, though, as he had a rough adjustment to the varsity level during his sophomore season and did not make varsity as a freshman. He missed a crucial part of last year’s homestretch, and once he came back for the district tournament at the end of the season, he didn’t get a chance to get his legs back under him.
“Last year, it was my first year being a starter. I was kind of jittery and was not focused,” McCaw said. “Once I got back to playing, we were out of rhythm and were so young, so that when it did come down to those big situations, we just didn’t have enough experience to know how to deal with it. This year, I’m a lot more focused for sure.”
Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez has noticed McCaw’s transition into being an upperclassman. He has given the point guard more responsibilities on the floor, and now it’s McCaw’s job to fully recognize in-game situations.
“I’m trying to get it where if I don’t call a play, he takes over and says we’re running this or that play,” Valdez said. “There are a few teams that switch from man-to-man or zone, and he has to recognize and be responsible for making those decisions and noticing those situations to help us win ball games.”
Valdez said McCaw is the best athlete on the floor, and his stats back that claim. He has a strong 7.1 rebounds per game, is a solid passer at 1.6 assists per game and is active on defense with 1.6 steals per game.
“I definitely feel like I am seeing the floor more clearly,” McCaw said. “I’ve been more aggressive on defense and rebounding because we really want to push the pace. On offense, we can spread it out, we can be patient or we can speed it up. Just whatever we need to do, we can go out there and get it done.”
Valdez said McCaw understands what it means to represent Ignacio on the front of the team jersey.
“This year, he’s willing to be a teammate and leader at times, and there are times where he is our best defender,” Valdez said. “He’s got a wider range of attributes to help the team. Athletically, that happened last year, but mentally, he finally got it this year. He’s got the athletic ability for sure. I know he’s also mentally capable of leading this team, and I want him to be a true point guard out there.”
After last year’s season came to a stunning end at the district tournament, McCaw believes Ignacio will once again contend for a spot at the state tournament this March.
“Our chemistry is phenomenal, and some of us have been playing with each other since sixth grade,” McCaw said. “We have a great time playing with each other and joking around. The team trips are super fun, and it’s an amazing group to be around. ... I think all of our goals are the same: prove that we can be a team that can get back to state and prove that we can be a top contender. We didn’t do the best that we could last year, and our goal is to come back from that, and I think this group has the talent to do it.”