McNeil signs with Coast Guard Academy

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth senior Ryan McNeil isn’t one to take the easy road.
The 6’4” shooting guard was fine-tuning his shot long before the Pilgrims started their 2011-12 campaign. During the season, the co-MVP helped set the pace for his teammates at practice and on the game floor, a pace which helped push Plymouth to a 16-6 finish.
McNeil signed on to play basketball at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy this week, and if the demands of a regular collegiate student-athlete aren’t enough, adding on the demands of attending a service academy makes for an especially challenging experience.
It’s not a road everyone would take, McNeil acknowledges, but it’s the one he wants.
“Not a lot of kids want to do it because it’s probably a little harder, but I’m just appreciative of what I have and I feel like I should give back a little bit,” he said. “The Coast Guard is definitely a good opportunity to do that.”
McNeil joins the Division III Bears following an 8-14 finish in head coach Kevin Jaskiewicz’s third year at the helm.
He adds a solid perimeter presence to the team after leading the Pilgrims with a 38.6 percent (59-of-153) 3-point shooting conversion rate en route to 251 points in his senior season. The All-Northern Lakes Conference pick should help give Coast Guard a lift on the defensive end and off the glass as well.
“Ryan comes from a great program and has been well coached,” said Jaskiewicz. “This will help his transition to the college game. He is passionate about basketball, a good teammate and has great versatility as a player. These attributes make him a great fit for our program.”
“I’m sure that they’re looking at his shooting ability, his ability to stretch a defense,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “If he plays a zone, if a team’s sagging on a big man then he’s going to be able to be a guy hitting 3s. I think the thing that I was really proud of him for this year, though, was the defense and rebounding. I thought he improved tremendously in both of those areas.”
McNeil’s work ethic has helped earn him plenty of kudos in his senior year.
In addition to his All-NLC basketball selection and co-MVP award, he was a PHS Alumni Association Player of the Game three times, a Channel 46 Student Athlete of the Week Dec. 22 and was named the Pilot News Athlete of the Week Jan. 16.
And McNeil’s diligence extends beyond the court and into the classroom.
He was Plymouth High School’s Scholar Athlete of the Month in January and made the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Academic All-State Honorable Mention list for the 2011-12 season.
Not only McNeil’s dedication, but his leadership qualities made him a good fit for Coast Guard.
“At the Coast Guard Academy we look for young men and women who have the
desire to serve their country, who are not afraid to work hard and are determined to be successful,” said Jaskiewicz. “Ryan possesses all of these qualities and has a chance to be an outstanding officer.”
“A great kid. He’s going to be tough to replace just from an off the court standpoint and the trust that I had in him,” said Bales. “He’s going to be tough to replace from a leadership standpoint because he was so dependable each day. He worked hard and just did a great job with the guys and keeping the team together.”
There’s a hard road ahead, but it’s one that McNeil is ready to take.
“It’s really exciting to see hard work pay off,” he said. “They have a good team up there, and I’m excited to play there.”