Brimfield player moves to Nebraska for chance to play basketball
PEORIA — Not every kid who is leaving Illinois to play basketball in another state is a big-time college prospect or a Player of the Year or the best player on a powerhouse team.
Jakoby McKown is a 5-foot-9 guard who is an excellent athlete -- when he was in eighth grade he turned in the second-best time in school history in the 1600 run -- who earned a promotion to the Brimfield High School boys varsity basketball team last season.
The 2020-21 season was to be his junior year and a big year of basketball growth for McKown, but COVID restrictions from the governor have forced the game to shut down in Illinois.
"He earned his varsity jersey last season," Brimfield head coach Scott Carlson said. "He played well. He was coming into this season for us with the potential to be a starter, he was definitely going to be in the mix."
Instead, McKown is off to Bellevue, Neb., where he’ll play hoops for Bellevue East High School. He left Thursday for a trip to the Omaha suburb, where he'll live with a friend of the family. His mother will soon follow.
"I'm excited to play basketball," said McKown, who leaves the Indians to play for the Chieftains. "I was likely going to be moving to Nebraska next year anyway. But with no basketball right now in Illinois, I felt the time was now.
"I'm going to miss my teammates and friends, the chemistry we had."
He's going to have to take care of a special task, too.
McKown was a lifelong best friend of Brimfield teammate Aaron Miller, who died in a car crash over the summer.
McKown ordered special shoes in Miller's honor, with an inscription on the underside of the tongue on each shoe. They were in Brimfield red. The Indians never got to play a game, and McKown never had a chance to play a game with those shoes on.
"Bellevue East is purple," McKown said. "I can't wear the red shoes. So I'm ordering new ones to honor Aaron -- in purple."
That's all for Cleve In The Eve on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.
Here's your sports quote of the day:
"If I miss anything about the sport, it's the camaraderie of old teammates."
— Bo Jackson
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.