Arizona State had a scholarship to give for the up coming season following the departure of Evan Gordon to transfer and that spot was given to Edmonds (Wash.) wing guard Shaquielle McKissic on Tuesday.
"As soon as I got off the plane I felt a special feeling," McKissic said. "It was so beautiful and once I got to the school and saw all the facilities I just felt like it was right and that was the place I wanted to be."
A lot of schools were hesitant to offer a scholarship to McKissic because he only has one season of eligibility -- he will apply for a second year -- but the 6-foot-5, 207-pounder averaged 22.5 points and 10 rebounds last season and feels like he has a lot more to offer than most players coming out of high school.
"I started off probably talking to maybe 50 Division I schools and over half stayed away because of the one year thing," he said. "But I'm not mad at it at all. I love the situation I'm at with ASU and arguably the No. 1 point guard in the country and a 7-foot-2 center. I think that's where I can thrive at.
"Coming from the school that I'm at I felt like everything is magnified by 100. Once I saw the facilities and access I'll have to the gym throughout the year and in the conversation I had with (sophomore point guard) Jahii (Carson) we felt like we could compliment each other so much on the court. I'm thinking beyond the Pac-12 to going deep in the (NCAA) Tournament. We're trying to shock the world."
McKissic said ASU's coaches are excited about getting an athletic wing who can run the floor and score and would like him to take a step forward as a perimeter defender.
"I feel like in the past I was always a slasher but now I'm becoming more of a versatile guard," he said. "Just basically I can pretty much play positions 1-3, I definitely love the shooting guard position because I have the ball in my hands and I can kick it out to Jahii or other shooters on the team and I can really go in there and show my athleticism.
"I definitely feel like the summer before I put the most into my game so I kind of knew if I made it through the season I could have a good year but once it got rolling I kind of shocked myself with the type of numbers I was putting up day in and day out. I definitely feel like those numbers can translate over to this year. And the (ASU) coaches want me to become a defensive stopper so that's what I'm going to put work into this off-season. Playing guys with a lot of talent and trying to stop them. That's the big difference between wins and losses at this level."
Five years removed from high school, McKissic has been through a lot of personal and family turmoil including being homeless for several short stretches in recent years, but he said he wouldn't trade those experiences for anything because they strengthened him.
"I just feel like that's what sets me apart from a lot of guys," he said. "A lot of guys wouldn't be able to go through things I've been through and rebound like I did. It's a humbling experience because you go from having nothing to having something in a little bit of time if you really apply yourself. It created a lot of discipline, a lot of hard work, a lot of hunger. Other guys are just going out there to compete, I'm going out there to make a statement and prove something to everybody.
"Getting this opportunity, it's really a blessing. Going through everything I've been through and being able to put on a stage like this with the players I have and coaches and friends and family supporting me, it's just ridiculous. Sometimes I can't even believe I made it through it but everything happens for a reason."