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This summer of ’21 is a season Isaac McKneely never will forget.

Oh, sure, the Poca High School basketball phenom will enjoy other wonderful summers, but this one will be special. Why this one? It’s because this is the summer the national college basketball culture discovered the 6-foot-4 combo guard.

It began in Akron, Ohio, moved on to Hoover, Alabama, and eventually finished in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as McKneely starred for the Wildcat Select teams and turned heads wherever he played.

But, first, Akron.

That’s where the rising senior actually stole the show from LeBron James. It’s true. The NBA star was in attendance to watch his son, Bronny, play for Strive For Greatness in Lebron James Arena at Akron.

As James watched from front-row seats, McKneely nailed three consecutive 3-pointers in overtime to lead Wildcat Select to a 73-69 win. McKneely led all scorers with 20 points on 6-for-15 overall shooting, including 6 of 11 from behind the arc.

Why, McKneely even out-classed the elder James. When the public address announcer pondered aloud that, perhaps, Bronny was the recipient of a foul call because he was playing in an arena named after his father, LeBron confronted the announcer verbally.

But Isaac? Well, he let his jump shot do his talking. And it didn’t take long for that jumper to have everybody else talking about McKneely.

After watching Wildcat Select play in the Adidas 3SSB event in Alabama, ESPN college basketball insider Jeff Borzello was quite taken with McKneely.

“Watched Virginia commit Isaac McKneely earlier,” tweeted Borzello, after watching McKneely score 25 points in a 73-64 loss. “High-level shooter, quick release, deep range. Gets great elevation on his release. Sees the floor really well, made passes with both hands. Played almost exclusively on the ball. Think he could be useful off pindowns, etc.”

The next day 247 Sports’ national basketball recruiting analyst Brandon Jenkins and 247 Sports’ Jeff Rabjohns raved about the West Virginian.

“Isaac McKneely will check a lot of boxes for Tony Bennett (University of Virginia head coach) down the road,” wrote Jenkins. “Making high elevated jump shots is the standard, however, his ability to play on the ball and impact the game on the defensive end with his activity is why the staff feels they can win the ACC with McKneely on their side.

“His toughness, skill, and competitive edge will keep him on the floor early and often in Charlottesville.”

Rabjohns also was very impressed.

“Isaac McNeely’s ability to make shots from all kinds of spots in all kinds of situations is tremendous,” said Rabjohns. “He can function very well versus legit length and athleticism.”

Another 247 Sports writre, Eric Bossi, also weighed in on McKneely.

“Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett had no problems with letting everybody see his grin as he watched his future player Isaac McKneely go to work during the final day of the event,” wrote Bossi. “Maybe this isn’t a perfect comparison, but for UVA fans think a slightly bigger version of Kyle Guy, who has a bit more to offer (at least at the same age) off of the dribble and as a creator for others.

“McKneely plays in attack mode, makes others around him better and is a tough competitor that knocks down big shots. He’s long been a favorite to watch of the 247 Sports staff and he’ll be a favorite to watch for everybody in Charlottesville. Such a perfect match between player, program and future head coach.”

Finally, SLAM Magazine weighed in on McKneely after Wildcat Select lost to D1 Minnesota, 69-51, in Iowa.

“Isaac McKneely of Wildcat Select has been putting on an absolute show at Adidas Hoops 3SSB,” tweeted Bohn. “The UVA commit is a big-time athlete who can really shoot it and is an exceptional rebounder for his size. Brings ton to the game that doesn’t show up in box score.”

From West Virginia to Ohio to Alabama to Iowa, McKneely played to a consensus of rave reviews. So, as unforgettable summers go, this one is pretty darned hard to beat.

Who needs the beach?

Not Isaac McKneely.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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