By James Butler
TYRONE, Ga. — After coaching five sports, including girls and boys basketball, at Morrow High School in Clayton County for the past seven years, Anthony McKissic is now at the helm of one of the Southern Crescent’s most promising high school athletic programs – Sandy Creek basketball.
“I couldn’t ask God for a better place to be right now in my career,” McKissic said at Fayette County’s 2015-16 Basketball Media Day. “It’s truly a blessing.”
Sandy Creek is coming off of a 17-11 2014-15 campaign in which the Patriots lost in the first round of the Class AAAA Tournament, but is considered to be one of the more talented teams in the area.
“There’s a lot of publicity going on […], but we just like to stay humble,” McKissic said. “Like [our t-shirts] say, ‘We’re all just kids from Sandy Creek that like basketball.’ We got to stay humble and hungry. That’s our biggest challenge at Sandy Creek, staying humble and not letting it go to our heads that we have these big-time athletes and scouts in the building at all times.”
Senior point guard Christian Turner has committed to Gardner Webb, while junior shooting guard Elias Harden holds offers from Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati and Texas Tech among others.
“They’re both great representations of the caliber of athlete we have Sandy Creek,” McKissic said. “We have a saying at Sandy Creek. Just because you can play basketball, doesn’t mean you can play here. It takes a certain type of athlete to play for Sandy Creek.”
Turner and Harden are two of the four starters Sandy Creek returns along with forward Evan Jester and Duke football commit Javon Jackson. The Patriots also expect key contributions from seniors Keith Heard (power forward) and AJ Freeman (point guard) as well as sophomore forward Xavier Brewer.
“This year we have three goals,” McKissic said. “No. 1 is to win region, No. 2 is to win state, and No. 3 is to get a scholarship.”
That third goal is as important to McKissic — who also served as Morrow’s recruiting coordinator — as the first two.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen from coach McKissic is he definitely knows how to market his players,” Turner said. “He does a great job of putting us out there, putting us in the right spots, and he’s really gotten a lot of kids scholarships and interest.”
Harden noticed McKissic’s passion for helping in that regard as well.
“When he first came in he got to know us and he put us in the right spots,” Harden said. “I think this year is really going to be a really good year for us.”
The four-year starter Turner just wants to be dominant this season.
“I just want to go out there and kill all of the competition and just leave it all out there for my last season of high school basketball,” he said.
McKissic eventually wants his program to play a national schedule and this season the Patriots will play in four tournaments, one of which will be in Charleston, SC. He wants the basketball program to one day equal the accomplishments of the three-time state champion football team.
“We’re a football school,” McKissic said. “That’s not going to change, but we can also play basketball.”