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McAmis becomes Central's first DII boys hoops signee

Kevin Mays • Jun 30, 2020 at 9:57 PM

NORTON — The best player in Wise Central boys basketball history made it official Tuesday.

Isaiah McAmis returned to his former high school to sign to continue his basketball career at Virginia-Wise, making him the first player from the Central program to sign a scholarship with an NCAA Division II school.

This past season was a banner year for McAmis and the Warriors.

Led by his 24 points per game, Central rolled to a 20-9 record, Mountain 7 District and Region 2D runner-up finishes and the VHSL Class 2 quarterfinals — the boys program’s first state tournament appearance since the school opened in 2011.

McAmis finished his career with a school-record 1,693 points, a total that came in just three years of varsity basketball. He did not play his junior year because of an ACL injury he suffered in the fall of that year during football season.

McAmis still broke the school’s career records for made 3-point shots (218), field goals (532) and free throws (409). He was second in school history in assists (275) and steals (194) and eighth in rebounds with 312.

During his senior year, he scored 680 points — firing at that 24 per-game clip — while also averaging 4 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

About a dozen DII, DIII and NAIA schools recruited McAmis, but he said his decision landed on UVA Wise because he likes the idea of playing in his hometown. But he also felt led to the Wise college.

“I felt like it’s where God wanted me to be,” said McAmis, the son and grandson of ministers. “And I like it being local because I like having the support of family and friends and having the chance to play in front of them.”

McAmis’ father, former Central coach T.J. McAmis, also played college basketball for the Cavaliers.

The younger McAmis said being a legacy played a role in his decision, but his parents left the choice up to him.

“It just felt like it was the right fit,” he said.

McAmis said he’s also been one of the Cavaliers’ biggest fans for as long as he can remember.

“We’ve been going to their games, I guess, since I was born,” he said. “I just always remember going to the games and watching them play. I remember going to watch them play in Greear Gym and then after they moved into the (Prior Convocation Center).”

He’s already played on the convocation center floor.

“We played there in the Grand (Home Furnishings Holiday) tournament and then a couple of times in the regional semifinals and last year in the regional championship,” McAmis noted.

The Warriors’ schedule last year also included a trip to the Arby’s Classic. Playing against such quality competition — as well as against Radford in the state tournament and Mountain 7 District foe and state runner-up Gate City during the season — was a plus in preparing McAmis for the next level of competition, he said.

“When you play against good teams and good players like that, it does nothing but make you better,” he said.

Come this fall, McAmis knows he will have to earn his stripes at the collegiate ranks.

“In college, everybody there was the best player on their high school team,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge.

“I’m just preparing to do the best I can do for the team and I’ll do whatever is needed of me to help the team win.”

McAmis is hoping to report to UVA Wise in early August.

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