Former Richmond High Star Wendell McKines: “I’m Built for This”

Wendell McKines was headed to Stockton for a barbecue at his grandmother’s house. It was a celebration for getting his degree from New Mexico State. But then he got a call perhaps worthy of another celebration.

It was his agent. McKines was a late add to the Warriors’ workout the next day.

“Alright. Let’s do it,” McKines said, recalling his immediate thoughts. “Can’t eat too much barbecue.”

McKines was all too happy to take part in Golden State’s two-part, 12-man workout on Monday. The former Richmond High star played in the second session and sparred against three other, bigger, power forwards: Stanford’s Josh Owens, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and Baylor’s Anthony Jones.

The odds are against McKines getting drafted. But, then again, he isn’t new to long odds. And the fact that he made it to this stage, with a chance to fulfill his NBA dreams, might make a team think twice about doubting him.

McKines could very well be that annual example of how measurements and one-on-one workouts allow some valuable players to slip through the cracks. He is endeavoring to prove his intangibles far outweigh his shortcomings.

“I just want to prove I can do different things, that I have a foundation to build off of,” McKines said. “My competitiveness. I can shoot the ball a little bit. I can get to the rack. I can finish. I can compete at the highest levels. (The Warriors) gave me the opportunity to show myself. I feel as though I did that.”

Several knocks will probably keep McKines from being drafted on June 28 – the biggest being his size. He measured at just over 6-foot-4 with no shoes and his wingspan, a shade under 6-9, is just below average for his height. That height will be hard for general managers to disregard.

Also, McKines will be 24 years old by training camp. He signed a letter of intent to play for USF after graduating from Richmond High. But he didn’t meet admission requirements and his letter of intent was voided. Instead of playing for a junior college, McKines sat out a year. He eventually landed at New Mexico State. But after his junior year, he was forced to miss an entire season thanks to a foot injury.

So McKines is entering the NBA six years after he finished high school. In the world of draft analysis, that translates to limited growth potential.

And, certainly, his reputation for controversy won’t go overlooked. In addition to past incidents, McKines is known for writing blogs that taunt the opposing team and toeing the line of professionalism on his Twitter account (@Wen_McKines31).

“I just have fun,” said McKines, who also raps and goes by the name Wensday. “You only live one life. And if you take everything so serious, then you’ll go crazy. So I just try to have fun and have a good sense of humor, have a good time.”

But he has few attributes that figure to at least get him a summer league roster spot and a training camp invite.

Perhaps his best asset is his aggressiveness and physicality, which manifests in rebounding. McKines ranked No. 8 in the NCAA last season with 10.7 rebounds per game. He left New Mexico State No. 2 on the school’s career rebounding list (1,135).

Many, including Warriors’ director of scouting Larry Riley, believe good rebounders in college become good rebounders in the NBA.

“I’ve got to get in contact with Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson and Dennis Rodman,” McKines said with a laugh. “I feel like I’m strong enough, I’m athletic enough, and my heart is one of my strengths. So I will be able to rebound. I couldn’t care less how tall an opponent is or how long they are. I don’t feel as though they have more heart than me.”

McKines, a San Francisco Pro-Am legend after scoring 53 points one game, is convinced he can score at the next level as well. He’s a strong finisher who has improved his outside shooting some over the years. As a senior with the Aggies, he averaged 18.7 points on 46.1 percent shooting (35.2 percent from 3-point range). He ranked fifth in the country with 20 double-doubles.

In the Portsmouth Invitational, McKines averaged 15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds. He said if he’s willing to make adjustments to his game and become a student, he can develop into a reliable scorer in the NBA. Ideally, McKines need to develop his ball-handling and passing, and outside shooting, so he can play some small forward.

One thing for sure to translate is McKines’ toughness — a characteristic teams seem to like on their roster. He plays with an edge. And, at 240 pounds with pretty good explosiveness, McKines has the body to mix it up despite his lack of height a la Chuck Hayes.

McKines seems to think he has what it takes to sustain at the next level. He said as much on Twitter.

Workout with the #Warriors went Wenderful. I’m built for this.

Marcus Thompson