MORGANTOWN — It started for Deuce McBride. whose actual first name is Miles, in the backyard or on the basketball courts in Cincinnati.
That was where his basketball education began, one he is continuing now as a key recruit of Bob Huggins at West Virginia.
His career at WVU started on Tuesday in Spain for an exhibition tour with him throwing down 14 points of 6-of-9 shooting with five rebounds, two assists and four steals. The performance led Huggins to say after the game:
“Deuce McBride, I thought was really good. He gives us size at the guard position. He gives us strength and toughness that we haven’t had in a while. He’s got an opportunity, I think, to be a special kind of guy.”
A special guy who has grown out of a special upbringing.
McBride was a kid blessed with athletic genes, coming from a family where sports were an important part of the culture. It wasn’t the end all, be all, mind you. His father Walt wasn’t going to push him into basketball even though he, himself, had been a really good player at Xavier University and his brother, Trey, is a junior playing at Northwood University in Michigan this year after averaging 15 points a game last year.
Walt McBride averaged 13 and 14 points a game his junior and senior years at Xavier, with that senior year team going 25-5 under Pete Gillen in his first year at the school. The team’s scoring leader that year and Xavier’s all-time leading career scorer was Byron Larkin, Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin’s brother.
As ingrained as sports were in the McBrides, it was not pushed upon the sons.
“He let me ease into it,” Deuce said a couple of days before leaving for Spain with the team. “He did take me to the gym a lot, but he never said I had to do it. When I chose that’s what I wanted to do and told him, he said, ‘OK, but I’m really going to put you to it.’”
And Walt did, as did Trey. If Deuce McBride was going to play basketball, he’d be good at it and tough in his approach to the game.
“My brother and my dad, any time we played a game in the backyard they took it to me. That’s what made me a better player. It’s what got me here,” he said.
It became a family affair, the kind that cleanses the soul, so to speak, for they would really go at it.
“My older brother pushed me so hard. I’d get mad and he’d tell me, that’s how it’s going to be. It’s not going to be easy. I’m here to help. I may be pushing, I may be talking, but I’m here to help you,” Deuce said.
“We had a fence. Any time I went to the basket, I knew I was going to be flying into that fence.”
But he was resilient and would come back for more.
“It develops mental toughness,” he said. “I’d try some moves against my brother or my dad and they’d let me know that isn’t going to work.”
Moeller, Deuce’s high school, is a Cincinnati powerhouse in both football and basketball. McBride had a hand in both.
As a junior quarterback he led Moeller to five early victories before suffering a foot injury. He threw for 956 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown. He decided to bypass his senior year of football to concentrate on basketball.
In basketball with McBride, Moeller won consecutive state championships — the first team in Ohio to do so since 2006 and the first undefeated Ohio state champion since 1995. The Crusaders won the last 49 games of McBride’s career and have gone 84-4 since 2016-17.
“I think he lost only one game in high school,” Huggins said. “He’s a winner.”
And because of that, he figures to get a great deal of playing time for the Mountaineers this season.
“I don’t know where or how, but he is going to play,” Huggins said. “He’s tough enough, physical enough, athletic enough that I wouldn’t be afraid to put him on any of the 3s we’re going to play.
“I don’t know if he’s a point or a 2 yet. It’s kind of like I said with (former Mountaineer guard) Tarik Phillip. Can he handle it? Well, he gets it where it needs to go. Can he pass it? He generally finds the open guy. I think Deuce is that guy, and he’s so competitive.
“He’s a guy we can move around and he’s cerebral. He’s had great coaching. His coach does as good a job as any high school coach in the country.”
McBride gives a lot of the credit to his high school coach.
“It was the coaching staff, really,” he said. “They know what they are doing. As a senior I told the younger guys, ‘Just listen and you’ll be successful.’ That’s how it was passed down in our program, listening and doing what you were told.”
The basketball intelligence isn’t just a natural thing.
“My basketball IQ is high,” McBride admits. “I come in every day and learn and do what I can to help. I think it’s going to translate well to the college game. It’s hard to learn what everyone does. You just have to take your game to a whole new level.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.