To watch Tariq Lee shoot jumpers is to keep thinking, there's something familiar here.
Part of it is the long release, which is more exaggerated than most shooting coaches would advise, honestly, but definitely works for him. Another part is the perfect rotation.
And then there's that sound. The one a ball makes as it passes through the net. You know the one, even if we are not quite sure we'll be able to come up with proper letters. Maybe fffft?
Anyway, Lee, a 5-11, 170-pound senior wing guard for Murrell Dobbins Tech, is a master jump-shooter in part because his uncle is Aaron McKie.
Aaron always could knock 'em down. From Simon Gratz to Temple to the NBA. Even now, as he enjoys a second pro career as an assistant with the 76ers, here's guessing he could still outsnipe many of his pupils.
Maybe not his nephew, though.
Yesterday, in the smaller of two gyms at Northeast High, Dobbins met William Sayre for the championship in one four-team portion of the Philadelphia School District's third annual holiday tournament.
The game was often sloppy and Lee was not completely zoned in. But as Dobbins triumphed, 64-53, he did go 3-for-7 on threeballs and, after drawing a foul on one of them, he did swish the trio of free throws.
The gym was pretty quiet at that second-quarter juncture. Fffft. Fffft. Fffft. On Dobbins' bench, a couple of players nudged each other and smiled. A magical sound, right?
"Awesome," Lee said, beaming. "I love it."
Lee finished with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals as part of a balanced effort - six Mustangs scored from seven to 17 points.
The victory margin would have been more comfortable, but Dobbins went only 9-for-20 at the line in the fourth quarter. Only once in that session, when fellow guard Samuel Everett-Bey managed the feat, did a Mustang hit two free throws in the same visit.
Lee even joined the partial-failure brigade in the waning moments, missing the back end of a double bonus.
"Yeah, that stunk, didn't it?" he cracked. "It was so frustrating to watch guys keep missing them. We spend a lot of practice time working on foul shots."
As you might imagine, Lee has seen a fair share of Sixers games. Don't get the wrong idea, though. Uncle Aaron has been much more than A Basketball Guy.
"He always keeps me out of trouble. Shows me how to be positive," Lee said. "He means a whole lot to me. He didn't make me like the game. He just put it out there for me."
As a little guy, Lee preferred the get-to-the-hole-approach. He acknowledged he barely attempted jumpers, let alone had success connecting on them. And when he wasn't driving, he was dishing.
He began to develop his shooting skills while attending Wagner Middle School and the more threes he made, the more he wanted to attempt. Within reason, of course.
Now, Everett-Bey is something of a sniper (17 points, also three treys) and the Mustangs show admirable good-teammate qualities for first-year coach John Sullivan. Barry Williams scored nine points, Paul McPherson and Maurice Graves halved 16 and Lamar Speller was right behind with seven. Graves and McPherson (also four steals) added 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Guards Jayvon Johnson (15) and Ramair "Juice" Garner (13) led Sayre in scoring. Johnson, quite the buzzsaw, also totaled 12 rebounds and five steals. Garner managed four assists. Also notable was the performance of forward Shawn Washington, who kept sacrificing his slim body to take charges.
With 24 seconds left in the third quarter, a sixth Dobbins shot in short order - three misses, a quick Sayre turnover, two more misses and a follow by Williams that produced a three-point play - provided a 45-29 lead. The Panthers kept plugging through the fourth quarter, but got no closer than six.
Lee, who lives near 73rd and Ogontz in West Oak Lane, majors in baking at Dobbins.
You'll never see him on the Food Network.
"I took that shop only because it's easy," he said, laughing. "Away from school, I do no bakin'. I don't even like it. In school? I try my best. We bake cookies and cakes and prepare special orders."
Would Tariq Lee follow the order of someone who'd ask him to put on a shooting exhibition?
"Nah," he said. "I'm not a showoff."
Credit Uncle Aaron for that trait, too. *