MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The moves came early and often for West Virginia freshman point guard Jordan McCabe.
From the family home in Kaukauna, Wis., McCabe also called South Carolina, Michigan and Seattle home at different parts of his life.
“Everybody always asks if my dad was in the Army,” McCabe said.
Not the Army. Instead, Matthew McCabe worked for Kimberly-Clark, a personal care corporation that works with paper-based products such as Huggies and Cottonelle.
At each spot, Jordan McCabe was the new kid in town always carrying that basketball around.
In truth, he was more than that really. He was the kid who could make magic with the basketball.
Go on YouTube and you will find a large portion of McCabe’s youth played out while performing his unique ball-handling skills at halftimes at different NBA games or even on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
“I’m not sure how that all got put together,” McCabe said. “I think she saw me on the news in Seattle or something like that and their people reached out to us.”
Performing in Phoenix helped him create a relationship with former Suns star Steve Nash.
To McCabe, it’s just “Nash,” and he speaks of the former two-time MVP as if the two live across the street from each other.
They talked as recently as this summer.
“I reached out to him one day out of nowhere,” McCabe said. “I had done something for the Phoenix Suns when I was real young. I wasn’t sure if he would even remember me. The cool thing was he shot me back a couple of messages and we talked back and forth for a while about the changes that were coming for me and how he dealt with them and how I should deal with them.”
All of it makes for one terrific story filled with glitz and glamour, except that isn’t who Jordan McCabe is at all.
Truth be told, he is grateful for all of his stardom and opportunities that came his way as a kid.
“I used it as a way to network in a sense,” McCabe said. “I had to learn about that way earlier than most kids. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll understand the benefit of what I did back then for a couple of more years.”
But, more than anything else, McCabe sees himself simply as a college freshman who is away from his family for the first time in his life and is trying to find his niche on the Mountaineers.
“Off the court, I’m a very typical person,” McCabe said. “They said on the Dream Team that John Stockton could get off the bus and walk around with his family, because no one recognized him.
“That’s what I shoot for. I know its a little harder to do now in the social media age, but off the court, I’m a regular dude. I enjoy a lot of the same things that everyone else does. I watch football on Sundays.”
Off the court, McCabe is personable. There are hardly interviews with the 6-footer. Instead, it’s more like getting-to-know him sessions.
He speaks openly about the “me” generation that seems to have engulfed the personalities of our sports world and then describes in great detail the reason he loves to pass the ball is to buck the trend of the me-first player.
He doesn’t shy away when his ability to pass the ball is compared to former Oklahoma star Trae Young or even former LSU and NBA great “Pistol” Pete Maravich.
“There are a lot of people that say, ‘You have to tone it back,’ or ‘You have to be less fancy,’ ” McCabe said. “It’s just instinct. I see things that happen real fast and when I make plays, I make plays.”
He’s also realistic about his college career and what he wants to get out of it.
“I’ll have to ask Coach Huggs again, but I don’t think he brought me in here to score 40 a game,” McCabe joked.
Make no mistake, McCabe is no sideshow. This college basketball thing isn’t just a side gig for him.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has raved about McCabe’s willingness to sit in the film room and study as much as possible.
One source on the team said McCabe has already surpassed former standout Jevon Carter in the amount of time spent on studying game film.
“I fell into my routine, which is kind of my personality,” McCabe said. “I got here and I decided I was going to put more time in than anyone else. Once I figured out what I could do on a day-to-day basis, I kind of forgot that I was 10 hours away from home.”
And if he comes across something that puzzles him on the court, Nash is just an Instagram message away.
“I think if I can continue to build that relationship, there are obviously a lot of positives things that can come from that,” McCabe said. “I mean, he was only a two-time NBA MVP.”