Men’s U18 Point Guard Jared McCain is a Rising Star on the Court — and on TikTok
If you follow Jared McCain at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship this week, you’ll learn how to play point guard at a high level — and you may even pick up a few social media tips.
As it turns out, McCain is an 18-year-old standout on both the basketball court and the TikTok scene.
From a hoops standpoint, the 6-foot-2 McCain is ranked as one of the top guards in the Class of 2023. He is a state champion at Centennial High School (CA) and is competing for the United States at this week’s FIBA U18 tournament in Tijuana, Mexico.
Away from the court, McCain has built a massive fan base on TikTok, where he has 1.6 million followers. He began to develop a strong following last summer and has continued to expand his support by posting hundreds of videos over the last year, including many of him dancing for his fans.
“This season, I’ve blown up,” said McCain, who also has more than 400,000 followers on Instagram. “I just get to have fun. I’ve always liked to dance and express myself in different ways.”
Naturally, some of his teammates and opponents razz him about the videos.
“It always happens,” he said, laughing. “It’s funny for me, but I expect it because it’s dancing and because it’s TikTok.”
Speaking of social media, McCain himself went semi-viral last week after draining a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in a scrimmage during the U18 training camp in Houston.
“That was super fun, for sure,” McCain said.
As far as the team itself, McCain sees a squad that presents a long list of problems for opponents.
“Defensively, we’re super long and we’re able to attack the paint,” McCain said. “What sets me apart is my shooting ability, but this team also has the ability to get downhill with Kel’el Ware and G.G. Jackson and Brandon Garrison. The depth of our team is just crazy. Cam Whitmore is someone who it’s really cool to see how he plays. And Mark Armstrong too.”
And as for McCain’s role on the team?
“They want me to lead the team a bit,” he said. “They think I have a good voice and a high basketball IQ, and they want me to make sure everyone’s in the right spots. And of course my shooting too.”
As a team leader, and particularly as a point guard, McCain understands the importance of learning each player’s strengths and weaknesses in a relatively short period of time. During the team’s training camp in Houston, McCain made a concerted effort to study each of his teammates — both on and off the court.
“I feel a responsibility,” he said. “I had to learn what each player wants. You can’t talk to certain players in certain ways because they won’t respond well. For some I can say, ‘Yo, that wasn’t good.’ But for other players, I can’t do that.” Is McCain the kind of player who can handle the real talk from teammates and the harsh feedback from coaches?
“Oh yeah,” said the Sacramento native. “After being coached by my dad throughout my whole childhood, I can take criticism. I welcome it, and I feel like you need to welcome it because that’s what is going to happen in college. I want to learn and be the best basketball player I can be.”
In terms of each player’s unique personality, McCain was asked whether it’s difficult to learn those nuances in a matter of days. He answered confidently: “I can pick it up quickly.”
Perhaps that should come as no surprise, as McCain’s leadership skills have evolved significantly over the last several years.
“Leading a team has been the biggest jump for me,” he said. “Obviously I’ve developed my mid-range game and finishing around the rim. I can handle the ball much better than two years ago. But the big things with me are communication and leading — and that just comes with being on a high school team, where you need to lead the young players, or in AAU, where the young guys need a player to look up to.”
After high school, McCain will take his leadership skills, on-the-court talents and social media presence to Duke University, where he will be a part of the post-Mike Krzyzewski era.
“Man, I’m super excited,” McCain said. “Just going there to visit, I got chills. I can’t wait to go there and work and play with such great players. I’m not worried about starting. I’m not worried about going to the league. It’s like, man, I’m going to Duke. I just want to win championships.”
Drew Silverman is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.