Whatever sport you follow, from basketball to boxing and everything in-between, it pays to be a hard worker. Coaches scout for it; fans cheer for it; and it is an element of any player's game that you can't tangibly coach.
Charles McKinney has consistently been DePaul's hard worker since he first put on a Blue Demon jersey three years ago. The 6-foot-3 guard from Evanston, Illinois has stepped onto the court nearly 100 percent of the time that he has been a Blue Demon and makes his impact felt in all of them. But as McKinney goes into his senior year, is he primed to have his best season yet?
Charles is confident heading into the year ahead. When I spoke to him this time, he mentioned that he wants to be the heart of the team. He commented that it is important to have someone older that his fellow teammates can look up to on and off the court. His leadership can be described as leading by example. He stated it is almost contagious when you see someone going that hard on both ends of the court and guys will naturally join in on the efforts.
In regards to students supporting the team at home games, playing at the Allstate Arena creates many attendance issues. When DePaul plays inside the venue in Rosemont, 25 minutes away from the campus in Chicago, more often than not is it a desolate, underwhelming atmosphere. Some people do not realize that DePaul operates on the quarter system or trimesters relieving students from class between late November to early January for nearly all of their nonconference schedule, which in turn also becomes problematic.
Charles admits that it would be great to play in front of a loud, boisterous crowd, and who could blame him? McKinney is well known amongst the DePaul student body, and can certainly help give DePaul students many reasons to cheer in the upcoming season.
The Blue Demons need leadership headed into the 2014-15 season. Looking back to one summer ago, Charles was training before his junior season. He looked to add size and strength to improve his defensive game. Charles mentioned a few weeks ago that he wants to be the best defensive player in the Big East Conference. These goals can be influenced by having to guard Doug McDermott when the Creighton Bluejays were due on the schedule.
Charles built a foundation to improve on, as there were several outings in which he recorded multiple steals. With a résumé already built, there is no doubt that the senior will be in the starting lineup from beginning to end. It is no secret that DePaul did not have it's most desirable record in the 2013-14 campaign, and on top of that, McKinney missed some time due to injuries. The good news is that McKinney is healthy and prepared to bounce back this coming season.
With prior years of experience and the hunger for success of DePaul, Charles McKinney is going to be a force on Big East courts all season long.