With no offense meant to the litany of talented and accomplished area male athletes, our 2014 Male Athlete of the Year was an easy pick. Khalil McCathern is this area’s equivalent to Bo Jackson.
Khalil knows playing quarterback. Khalil knows playing receiver. Khalil knows playing linebacker. Khalil knows playing safety. Khalil knows returning kicks. Khalil knows playing post. Khalil knows playing shooting guard. Most importantly, Khalil knows how to win.
In fact, “win” was the only word going through McCathern’s mind when he went up for a jaw-dropping, buzzer-beating dunk that helped the Smithville Tigers knock off arch-nemesis La Grange and win their first district championship since 1994. Anyone (author of this article included) who was lucky enough to be in that gym that night will never forget that play, but it was just the exclamation point on what was a stellar athletic high school athletic career for McCathern.
The senior will be the first Tiger in more than 50 years to play in the Texas High School Coaches Association All Star Game next month. The real question is, where will South Team coach Bob Gills play him? He filled every void the Tiger football team had in 2014. McCathern started the year at quarterback, where he held down the position until the emergence of Garrett Gray Mathis. Then, he became one of the team’s most dangerous receivers. On defense he was an All-State selection at safety, but moved up to linebacker when the team needed his aggressiveness and athleticism closer to the line of scrimmage. Next year at Navarro Junior College, he will find a permanent home at the outside linebacker position.
“It is scary to think of trying to block Khalil coming off the edge with his speed and athleticism,” former Smithville head football coach Wayne Childs said. “Khalil has so much potential. He is so naturally talented. When he gets a chance to develop at one position, he is going to be even better.”
On the basketball court the four-year starter became one of the area’s best defenders and rebounders. He could match up with a guard on the perimeter or get down and dirty under the hoop against players six inches taller than him.
McCathern has been on the cover of many Bastrop Advertiser and Smithville Times sports sections over the past couple of years, but scarily enough he’s still well under his cathedral ceiling as an athlete. If he continues to put in the hard work, it would be a safe bet to say we will hear even more from McCathern for years to come.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com