Patience is said be a virtue. For Emareyon McDonald, it has been a means to an end.
A year after moving from Coushatta to Baton Rouge, the 6-foot-1 point guard is eager to prove himself as a senior at Scotlandville High.
“There was some sadness. But having to sit and watch last year didn’t break me … it helped me,” McDonald said. “I got my schoolwork together and got prepared for this year. I know this year I am going to need to bring it every night.”
McDonald was ruled ineligible by the LHSAA last fall, after Red River High contested the family move to Baton Rouge. His father, Charski, played one season at Glen Oaks before moving to Coushatta, the forerunner to Red River, in the 1990s.
As a sophomore, McDonald averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals at Class 2A Red River. A move to Class 5A Scotlandville, Baton Rouge’s most storied basketball program in the 2000s, could have given McDonald the chance to play on an LHSAA title team last season.
Instead, he watched as the Hornets won a fourth Division I select title, their seventh LHSAA title in 11 years. McDonald is now the heir apparent to the point guard role for a young team. That role was played most recently by Javonte Smart (LSU) and Reece Beekman (Virginia), something Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample downplays.
“I think he’s excited, antsy and ready. But I don’t think he has to come in and be the savior,” Sample said of McDonald. “He does not need that pressure. He still has things to work on to be the best all-around player he can be. At the same time, he will be a very important piece to what we do.
“Basketball is a team sport and we’re starting from ground zero. But the last time I checked, everybody had graduation. It’s time for this group to step in. We’ve got to hunt and eat just like everybody else.”
McDonald is hungry. The first AAU practice with LivOn Fleur De Lis, the program of former LSU player and current Newman coach Randy Livingston, is this week. Two tournaments/showcases are scheduled for August and September.
“I worked a lot on my defense. That is the spot I need to work on some more. I knew that had to be better,” McDonald said. “On offense, I worked more on getting in the lane and using jump stops, which gives me more ways to create for my teammates. And I worked on keeping my shot consistent.”
A deadly accurate long-range jump shot has long been McDonald’s calling card. He is considered the best outside shooter in Louisiana’s 2021 class. But a year outside the high school game did have a slight downside.
Last summer, McDonald was listed as the state’s No. 2 prospect for 2021 and now is at No. 4, one spot behind a local AAU teammate who enjoyed a stellar junior season, The Dunham School’s Carlos Stewart.
McDonald and his parents are focused on a different kind of long game. Now very comfortable in his new home, McDonald offers what sounds like a cliché, “It is about more than basketball.” He does not talk about colleges options, saying schools have stayed in touch and a few new ones have reached out during the pandemic.
“Where I lived before there were like four red lights. It’s so much bigger here,” McDonald said. “It took me a month or so to settle in. One thing I like is there are more places to go and things we can do as a family. I like family time.”
Younger sister Kamiera joins McDonald at Scotlandville as a freshman. She is a 5-7 guard. And yes, they do play one-on-one at home from time to time. Academics are important. McDonald said he finished with a 3.8 grade point average in Scotlandville’s general magnet program. He credits teachers for pushing him to new limits, too.
“In our house, academics are the most important thing,” Charski McDonald explained. “His mom and I are teachers. She just finished her masters and I should finish mine by next May.
“Basketball has its place. I stress to him (Emareyon) that the important thing is getting to college so you can be prepared to provide for your family one day. As far as recruiting goes, he will get whatever he is supposed to get. And he’ll have to earn it.”
McDonald said he learned from watching Beekman and other graduated SHS seniors, like Austin Peay signee TaiReon Joseph.
“Those guys were so mentally tough,” McDonald said. “You knew they were going to bring their best every night, no matter what the situation was. They didn’t take plays off.
“Basketball is played on a high level here (in Baton Rouge). In 5A, there are a lot of good players. And big players. I can’t let up.”