PDT Sports Writer
Ever since they were little children, Dion McKinley and Wayne Evans have figuratively been inseparable.
With the transition from high school to college, the duo may have found separate avenues. But with the help of a Portsmouth graduate, the two will play basketball together at the University of Cincinnati-Clermont.
For their former head coach, Gene Collins, he is glad to see his former players move onto the next level. The pair become the fifth and sixth members from the 2012 state championship team, joining Zaide Whitley (Lake Erie College football), Mason Jordan (Wilmington College football), Kyle Ratcliff (University of Findlay football) and Len Collins (Shawnee State University basketball) as former Trojan basketball players who will be playing college athletics.
McKinley, Evans and Collins all signed Friday.
“It’s a good day, I’ve prepared for this for a long time and that’s been our goal,” Gene Collins said. “Not only to bring back basketball to Portsmouth High School but then also have kids to advance and go play at the next level.”
When he became a freshman in high school, McKinley told his coach his dream was to play college basketball.
“He told me always to work harder, come to school, do all of my work and I’ll get to the next level,” McKinley said. “I’m seeing all of the stuff he said to me is paying off now. I’m just blessed to be going to the next level and to play college ball.”
McKinley has not declared a major at this time. He said he likes how the school has on-campus housing as to one of the reasons why he chose UC Clermont.
For Evans, he wanted to find a change of scenery but also have the opportunity to come home and play in front of his friends and family with a team that takes on Shawnee State. At this time, he has not been told whether he would play point guard or shooting guard.
Evans also will walk onto the campus with an undeclared major but may lean towards business management or administrative management. Although he will not have to move onto campus until next weekend, Evans knows the days leading up to the move will become more emotional.
“I’m definitely going to miss the high school,” Evans said. “Once you’re a Trojan, you’re always a Trojan. Also I’ll probably miss the roads to The Convo and The Schott.”
McKinley, the Division III Co-Player of the Year in his final season at Portsmouth, and Evans, a Third Team All-Ohio selection, will be playing for John Hurley, a 1958 PHS graduate.
“I’ve never coached anybody from Portsmouth High School before,” Hurley said. “It’s going to be exciting and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The head coach of the Cougars was first made aware of the tandem from a tip by Tiffin coach John Hill. Last season, the Dragons signed former Trojan point guard Andrew Bendolph.
“That’s when the process started and we took an interest in them,” Hurley said. “We were hopeful that we were going to have a chance to recruit them.”
Now that he has both players in the fold, he likes how both will fit the Cougar style.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.