Standout Jimmy McKeel Named to RHSSHOF

Thursday, August 11, 2016
Jimmy McKeel(courtesy photo)

Blackcat two-sport star Jimmy W. McKeel has been selected for induction to the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2016. McKeel was the first RHS basketball player to ever be named as an All-State selection for both junior and senior high, and helped lead the squad to the state championship game.

Jimmy McKeel showed signs of being an outstanding athlete early in his life. In the ninth grade he was the leading scorer on a good junior high team, which lost to Jonesboro in the district championship game by nine points. Rector then advanced to the junior high state tournament as the district runner-up, and Jimmy was selected to the All-State team. At the conclusion of the state tournament, he moved up to Rector's senior high team and scored 20 points in the first game of the district tournament. And, thus a storied senior high career began.

During his senior high career Jimmy lettered in basketball three straight years, earning the honor in 1958, 1959 and 1960. He was also a starter all three years of his senior high career, and in the spring also lettered in baseball all three of those years.

As mentioned, Jimmy was the first Rector athlete to be named All-State in basketball in senior high and junior high, earning the distinction in both 1957 and 1959.

During Coach Bucy's era at Rector, Jimmy ranked third in career scoring with 1,222 points and was fourth in career points per game averaging 13 points per contest.

As a sophomore, he was a starter on the Rector team which reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament before losing to Sheridan, the eventual tournament winners. In the two games in which he appeared, Jimmy scored 17 points against Green Forest and had 13 in the contest with Sheridan.

During his sophomore year, Jimmy was the second leading scorer on the team 402 points and a 13 point per game average. In the district and state tournament games he converted on 31 out of 33 free-throws--an impressive 94 percent average.

Jimmy's junior season, in a controversial ending, Rector lost the state championship game by one point in overtime. According to accounts, as time expired Jimmy rebounded a missed shot and made a basket which would have won the state championship--if it had counted. One official ruled it good and the other ruled no-good. After consulting the timekeeper, it was ruled no-good and the final score was set. For his performance, Jimmy was named to the All-State team. In the four state tournament games of 1959, including the overtime loss in the championship game, he tallied 15, 11, 23 and 6 points, for a total of 55. His heroics included hitting two baskets in the last quarter of the one-point-win in the quarterfinals against White Hall, and he hit four free throws in the last 1:09 of the semi-final three-point-win over Hoxie.

During his junior year, Jimmy was selected as "most athletic" of RHS.

Legendary coach Jess Bucy said the following of McKeel, "Jimmy was a very good two-sport athlete. He was the best hitter on our high school baseball team."

McKeel will join former RHS athletic standouts Jessica Hill-Graham and Dana Adams-Wilson, along with former Clay County Democrat editor and co-publisher, Wendell H. Crow, as members of the RHSSHOF class of 2016, with the induction ceremony set for Saturday, Sept. 3.

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