BOYS' BASKETBALL: McDonough chooses Truett-McConnell

Among those at Oakwood Christian Academy on Wednesday to witness Matthew McDonough (seated, center) sign his letter of intent to play basketball at Truett-McConnell University were OCA assistant coach Scott McSpadden, OCA head coach and father Wayne McDonough, mother Stacy McDonough, brother John McDonough and TMU head coach Jon Yeh. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

The Oakwood Christian Eagles basketball roster will have a different look to it next season as for the first time since the high school program’s inception, Matthew McDonough will not be in an OCA uniform.

McDonough is set to graduate from the small Christian school in Chickamauga, but his basketball playing days are not yet over.

The 6-foot-7 center and All-Conference player signed on to join the Truett-McConnell University Bears on Wednesday. He becomes the first OCA Eagles’ men’s player to sign on to play at the next level.

“Today means a lot to have the opportunity to sign and play college basketball,” he said. “It’s an exciting experience and one that I’m looking forward to.”

McDonough cited the atmosphere of the Cleveland, Georgia school as one reason for his decision.

“The coach is really great and all the people and players there are too,” he added. “I like how they all function and what they stand for. That’s really what convinced me to go there.”

McDonough finished his high school career with over 1,000 career points, more than 750 career rebounds and over 200 blocked shots and the Eagles enjoyed their first-ever winning season in 2016-2017.

He scored 45 points in a Southern Christian Athletic Association South Region semifinal victory and guided his team to the SCAA Final Four.

“Matthew has just meant so much,” said OCA head coach Wayne McDonough, who has coached his son throughout his prep career. “He’s helped build the program here and been one of its leaders since he was a freshman. He’s put in a lot of hard work with what he does on and off the court and layed down a path that many Eagles coming after him will follow with his hard work and unselfishness.

“He’s been working so hard for this moment and it’s nice to see him with a plan. He’s been praying a lot over this decision, so it’s good to see it all work out for him.”

“He’s got a good frame to him,” said Bears’ head coach Jon Yeh. “Finding big guys at our level who can play is tough, but with a year or two of seasoning, I think we can get him from the small Christian high school level to up the NAIA scholarship level. We see him (playing) down low for the most part. We like quality guys that can play with their backs to the basket and defense and rebounding are our biggest need right now.

“But we also look at the whole person. Matthew exhibits a wanting to grow spiritually and he’s pretty strong academically and I think he really fits in with our team culture.”

McDonough said he would miss his time at OCA.

“I’ll miss the players and my teammates here and just the bond we had together,” he explained. “It was fun to play ball for a small school. Hopefully I can bring a good work ethic (to TMU) and just help them improve their team by playing my position as best I can.”

McDonough added that he wants to study history.