I first heard of Jordan McCabe when he was around 10 years old, he was a video sensation that was sweeping the internet. He was a 5’2″ kid from Kaukauna, Wisconsin (my hometown); after a few months he was an afterthought in my mind. I returned home to Kaukauna shortly before his freshman year and there was a palpable buzz in the air surrounding the upcoming season. Fast forward to now and McCabe has 6 D1 offers and is fresh off a championship sophomore season.
Q: Can you talk a little about your youth and how you became this youtube phenom
A: When I first started basketball was something I did with my dad he was the JV coach for Marinette HS. It never dawned on me that this was something I would do until I moved out to Seattle in 2010. That’s where the internet stuff took off. It started by going on a local news show and just kind of escalated from there.
Q: Do you think playing in Seattle elevated your game?
A: Changed my game, changed my approach, changed the entire talent field and how I approached it.
Q: What was it like dealing with all that hype surrounding you
A: It was tough coming back here, I love my city, but at the same time its tough dealing with that. The way I define success is different than the way it is defined around here. Up until the point I moved back into Kaukauna I did not get a whole lot of attention. Here people deal with that in a lot of different ways you find out who your friends are and you find out who is in your corner.
Q:How did that shape your freshman season on Varsity
A: Coach Schalow doesn’t get into all that stuff, his philosophy is that if you can play you can play. He knew the amount of time I invested into the game. He sees a lot more than most people do when approaching the game. He made a decision to put me on Varsity and then to make me a captain. (Jordan Giordana)
Q:Whats it like to play basketball in the Fox Valley and to a lesser extent Wisconsin?
A: In the Fox Valley it is a little bit of a culture shock swinging from a big urban area like Seattle, you play more people who like the game, instead of loving the game. Kids just don’t have the same passion. People poke fun at kids who take it to new heights, this isn’t a hobby for me. There is this small town mindset of overvaluing the 3 sport athlete who is good at all 3 instead of great at one.
There are a lot of kids in Wisconsin who don’t get recognized as they really should, there is a ton of talent in the Milwaukee area, but there are some guys who are underrated that do not get recognized. There was 5 from Wisconsin in the top 100 camp in Virginia to get get 5 guys was a pretty big deal. There are a handful of guys trying to chase greatness in the state.
Q: What goals did you having coming into last season?
A: I can remember losing in the regional final game to West De pere where my first season ended like it was yesterday. A couple of days after that I was going to get a workout in and I drove past the West De Pere – Seymour game and seeing the Seymour fans tailgating on our home court. I said to myself we aren’t getting short handed this year we need to get some sort of hardware game. We weren’t settling for anything less. We knew we were good enough to get the gold ball. The state ranking system is affiliated with the national guard, and a guy comes in in full dress and hands us a preseason #1 banner. We were not happy about that, we wanted to be postseason #1. Coach talked about us getting better every game and getting that gold ball.
Q: How do you separate team goals from personal goals?
A: It is a thing, but its not too difficult, I always write my goals down. I wrote down in 5th grade with my personal coach Jason Otter that I see 3 or 4 times a year, He sent his kids out with two index cards one was personal goals one was team goals. It is easier for me when you see it in writing, during the season I have team goals and anything personal is all extra.
Q: What schools are giving you the biggest pitch right now?
A: West Virginia is really heavy, Minnesota as well, Stanford, Gonzaga, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.
Q: Whats it like to be recruited by some of the biggest coaches in the game?
A: Its surreal to me for a guy like Coach Huggins to invest that much interest, time, and money to fly out here in the middle of the school year. It is crazy in a town like this for a guy like that to come here, it is a really rewarding experience, but you can’t let it get you complacent. He is putting trust in me and I don’t want to let him down.
Q: How do you rank the factors in your college decision?
Overarching thing is staff and style of play. I have to trust the people running the program, I have to want to spend 4 years with these guys and want to model myself after them as humans. They need to be good straight shooting people so I can stay on the right path.
Next would be family’s opinion they have been with me since day 1.
Distance is a factor, but not necessarily a high priority. If I find a team that fits me well, I will play anywhere.
Q: What are your goals to finish before you enter college in two years?
A: One of my goals is to change this stigmatism that I’m arrogant, I think part of it stems from me being outgoing. One coach told me that anything I do wrong people are going to take and blow up and he didn’t want to see that happen to me. Personally I want two more rings, I didn’t back down from saying it last year and I won’t back down from saying it again. My only other goal is to find the right school for me and as soon as I find the right school I would commit.
Q:What are you trying to improve in your game?
A: The weaknesses I see in my game are sheer athleticism and lateral quickness. When you play point guard at the next level you are going to defend the quickest guy. The athleticism is just icing on the cake, sheer athleticism is overrated, but coaches love it and look for it.
Q: Who would you say the best player you have played with and played against
A: Best with: Deandre Ayton
Best against: PJ Washington
The way I look at it is guys have the same athletic ability as Kobe and Lebron, but what separates them is how skilled they are with their athleticism. That is what separates guys like Deandre and PJ.
Q: Who do you try and emulate?
A: I try and emulate guys like Nash, Stockton from the past. From the present I take not exactly how Curry plays but bits and pieces of him and Irving Paul. I don’t emulate my game after one guy, I try and take the best from a lot of people.
Q: You get a lot of negative attention for your game. Any good stories?
A: I remember being at Appleton North and I missed my first shot. And some one yells out Mccabe you are D3 at best
Then at Appleton West during a timeout a middle aged dude dropped a couple of cusses and f bombs and he is fuming. Flipping me off and cussing me out.
Q: What do you think your best game ever was?
A: Seymour. Its not just points, but we had to battle and the grit we showed.
McCabe will start his junior season at Kaukauna this fall and will look to bring another gold ball in a loaded division that contains several of his AAU teammates and other Wisconsin standouts.