In April, I wrote a feature story on Ra’Shad Weekly-McDaniels, a junior hooper at Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis at the time, covering his young path through basketball and who he is off the court. Today, he committed to Central Michigan, becoming the program’s first commit for the Class of 2020.
Last night, I caught up with Weekly-McDaniels and learned more about his decision, his full recruiting process and more. Here is the transcript of our conversation:
Q&A with Ra’Shad Weekly-McDaniels
JM: Ra’Shad, we hear you’re ready to make your big decision. Where are you choosing to get your education?
RWM: I’ll be going to Central Michigan University for the next four years.
What were the biggest factors in your decision to become a Chippewa?
The biggest factor in my decision was communication, and also where I see myself fitting in coming into the program. When I visited Central Michigan, I enjoyed the coaching staff, their hospitality. Their play style fits my game. (Head) coach (Keno) Davis, the way he coaches and the way he coaches the team how to play, I see myself coming in and playing big minutes as a freshman. Communication is one of the top things, though.
When I say communication, I mean like talking to me, checking up on me. Just calling every day, making me feel wanted. They made it feel like they wanted me. I was a top priority for them, so landing me was probably one of the big things for them. They were just communicating with me. They were at every single game, head coach and assistant coach at every single AAU game they could be at, they were at the Illinois camp, some came down to the school to see me workout. They’re coming next week. It’s a family thing. They made it known I’m the guy they want.
That sounds pretty special. How important was it that Central Michigan treated you that way?
I think it was good, because all the other schools, they checked off my box as far as everything else, but when it came down to communication and the style of my play, it was like yeah, this is what I like to do. They’re more of a point guard central. That’s what they call themselves, Point Guard Central.
Some of my friends that I have who I talk to, they’re out of college now, but like Rayshawn Simmons, Shawn Roundtree, Larry Austin, they all went to Central Michigan. They were part of the success at Central Michigan. They talked to me about it. So that’s what I like about it.”
It seems the program won you over quickly, but what made you decide to commit now?
To be honest, I just wanted to get everything out of the way. Just get everything out of the way, focus on my high school season. That’s what I was just really doing, get everything out of the way, focus on my next high school season, make sure that I’m healthy and in the right shape for the season.
This is no small chapter in your story. How difficult of a decision was this for you?
It was stressful. It was a stressful, it was stressful. But I overcame, you know, sitting back, thanking God, just communicating, just talked to God and made sure the night before I committed. I committed on campus, so the day before I committed, I prayed about it, talked to God a little bit to see if it was the right decision. That really was the route.
What was the process like from start to finish with the coaching staff at Central Michigan?
Like I said, they made it known I was a top priority for them, calling me every day, texting me every day, just checking in and checking in on me. When I was on campus, they really made me feel like I was at home, and I was comfortable there. That was my favorite thing about it. They went to every single game that I had. Every single time, they were there, front row and center. They made me feel wanted, like it’s somewhere I’m needed.
This means you are going to be going away for college. How’s your family handling knowing you’re not going to be crazy far away, but a pretty good distance?
It’s 7 hours and 44 minutes away from where I live at. They enjoyed it. They’re happy for me. My mom, my stepdad, they both went down with me. That’s the place I need to be at. There’s nothing good going in Saint Louis, so like, I need to get away. I tell my friends, if I go to school, I might not come back. I’m not talking about coming back to visit family members. Other than that, I’m not coming back.
I feel good about it. I’ve been in Saint Louis my whole life. I’ve traveled from state to state, but it’s nothing like going away for a long time. Just starting fresh. Start off fresh, start my new life. My life is just starting to begin. I’m starting fresh. It’s pretty good.
Now that your recruitment is over, what is your overall feeling about it? You called it stressful. Was it enjoyable at all?
It’s fun, but the recruiting process, you get tired of talking, getting texts from coaches every day. They’re pretty much blowing up your phone. That is stressful. You’re like, could I get a break? But then again, that’s their job. So, it was stressful making a decision.
D1 is D1. I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter where you go. Somebody will find you to play at the next level. That’s why I wasn’t too big on power fives, schools like that, I wasn’t big on those schools. I was big on where I was going to play at and would where I can have a great impact coming in as a freshman. That’s why I made the decision I made.”
Has Central Michigan told you that as a freshman, you’re immediately going to be an impact player? That you’re going to be playing big minutes?
No. When I went in there and I played, I just saw myself fitting in. I feel like I can play some big minutes coming in as a freshman. They have a couple seniors that are guards, so like I said, I have a good chance of going in there and playing some huge minutes.
What about the recruiting process surprised you, if anything?
I don’t think anything surprised me. I feel like I was ready for the recruiting process. There were some things I didn’t understand as far as un-officials and officials, but as the recruiting process goes on, you understand it better. My thing about the recruiting process was, and some people probably think the same thing is, certain schools, they tend to go after kids who they know they’re not going to be able to get, and they waste scholarship offers like that. I feel like I should tell kids, go somewhere where you’re wanted.
Like, some of my coaches told me to wait on the high school season, but I didn’t want to wait, because I feel like if a school hasn’t talked to me by now, then they’re not really interested in me. They just want me because they didn’t get the player they want. I’m not nobody’s backup plan. I’m going somewhere where I’m wanted, where I’m needed at.
What do you feel like you learned from your recruitment process?
I’ve learned to be patient. Be patient and humble, that’s what I learned, because I wasn’t too patient with the recruiting process. I was just like, who’s gonna offer me, who’s gonna offer me, because I had seen other people getting offers, you know?
When did that finally start to change?
My junior year. My junior year, my coach was like, be patient, everything’s going to come how you want it to come. He was just telling me that so, I just was patient, worked, stayed in the gym, stayed on top of my game and in top shape.
Aside from the court, do you have any idea what you’d like to major in yet? Why?
My thing was business or sports management. I’m leaning between those two. They mentioned they have a good sports medicine program.
You talked to me before about your love for writing, poetry and music. Do you plan on taking classes about those subjects in college?
Right now I take AP Literature and Comp 4. They told me after I take this, I won’t have to take it in college, so I took honors classes twice so I wouldn’t have to take it in college. I would love to do it, but you know, it is what it is.
When we spoke last, you told me that you were excited to become the second member of your family to go to college. Is it surreal for it to really be happening now?
Yeah it is. It really is. It’s a blessing. It really is a blessing.
What are you most looking forward to next fall when you start at Central Michigan?
Building new friendships. Living life, starting a new beginning. That’s pretty much what I’m looking forward to.
What will you do this year, your final year in high school, to prepare for college basketball?
Like I said, just stay in the gym. Stay in the gym, get up shots, stay consistent. It’s different at the next level. Everything is different from college to high school basketball, so I have to be able to stay on top of my game and stay in top shape.
Playing MAC basketball, you’re going to be streamed nationally, you’ll be on TV. The MAC has teams go to the Sweet 16 sometimes. How exciting is that kind of hype for you?
Man, playing on TV is going to be a blessing. Nobody in my family has ever played on TV before. Playing on TV, for anybody, playing on TV is a blessing. It really is. Everybody tries to say it’s not, but it is. It really is. Sometimes you get a little shy about it because you’ve never been on TV before, but you have to be ready for the big stages, and big stages mean being on TV playing in front of thousands of people. That’s what you have to be ready for.