Above image: Mason High School’s McKenzie Cano scored 13 points in the Cowgirls’ 43-34 loss against Muenster in a Class 2A girls basketball state semifinal at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Friday, March 6, 2020. Charles Bryce/San Angelo Standard-Times
BELTON, Texas- One of the most dynamic post players in the UMHB women’s basketball team’s 2021 recruiting class comes to Belton by way of Mason High School, a 2A program in West Texas.
McKenzie Cano has done it all for the Cowgirls as four-year varsity player, having been named a two-time Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) All-State honoree, and earning First Team All-District honors twice.
A versatile forward, she played a key role in Mason’s UIL Tournament success over the last four years, including a three trips to the state semifinals.
With an expected lack of depth at the post positions heading into this upcoming season, Cano should see the floor early and often throughout her freshman year.
We caught up with Cano a couple days ago to discuss her early commitment to UMHB, who she has modeled her game after, her earliest memories of playing basketball, and more, as we continue to catch up with the commits.
Q: You committed to UMHB in the summer of 2019, much earlier than the majority of the commits in the Class of 2021. What stood out for you about UMHB?
MC: “When I went on an official visit, it just felt like home. I had been to other visits where I didn’t think I could see myself playing in that program or going to that school. So when I went to UMHB, I immediate knew, ‘This is where I need to go. It is such a great program, I need to be there.’ It felt like home, that’s why I decided to commit so early.
“As soon as I met everybody, saw the gym, that [UMHB] had a good physical therapy program, I knew it was the place I needed to be.”
Q: One highlight of your high school career was reaching the state semifinals in three of your four years of high school. What are your memories of those tournament runs?
MC: “My freshman, sophomore and junior years we made it to state and that was one of the first times we had ever been, so that was really cool to experience that. I always dreamed of making it to state, so when we did, I was so happy, after we lost, that we got to experience it. Before the game I was so nervous and preparing for the game that I didn’t really get to stop and fully realize, ‘Wow, we’re at state’. Looking back, those are some of the greatest moments and memories I’ll have from my high school career.”
Q: One unique aspect of your final year of your high school career was that you got to play on varsity with your younger sister Madison. How cool was that opportunity?
MC: “That was really cool. It was the first time we got to play together because I used to play with older kids or boys, so I never got to play with her. Finally getting to play with her was pretty special. We only got to be on the court a couple of times, but I had a few assists to her!”
Q: What are your earliest memories of playing basketball?
MC: “I started playing basketball when I was in pre-K. I started playing with kindergarteners and first graders. I don’t really remember it, but I always remember loving basketball. My dad said that the second I stepped out on the court, I would be the one trying my hardest and get mad when we lost. I took it really seriously, and I’ve loved basketball ever since.”
Q: Watching your film, one thing that really sticks out about your game is your three point shooting ability. You don’t see too many post players who shoot the three with the accuracy you do. How did that aspect of your game develop?
MC: “I used to be on the block and just shoot block shots, but when I realized my potential, I was like ‘I can do as much as I want to do’. I think I started really practicing my outside shot when I was about fifth grade. I would go outside and shoot as many threes as I could. I’ve been really tying to work on that and not be a typical post, but a post that can do everything.”
Q: With that considered, are there any players that you’ve watched growing up, and really tried to emulate or model your game after?
MC: “Breanna Stewart or Kevin Durant. They’re both taller and can do pretty much anything, so I’ve tried to model my game after them.”
Q: This might be a hard one, but what are a few of your goals for your time at UMHB?
MC: “When I set my goals, I start pretty high. So my goal is to win the national championship, if they’ll have it next year. That’s what I’m looking forward to and working hard to achieve that goal. I know we have a great recruiting class and we could do it next year. That’s what I’m working towards.”
Role Model: “I would say my cousin. She’s a nurse in Houston and has been a good example of somebody who works hard to achieve her goals and thrives in what they do.”
Sport I’d be playing if I didn’t play basketball: “Volleyball for sure. I used to play select when I was younger and then we moved [from Midland to Mason] and they didn’t have volleyball. So I was a little disappointed, but that’s when my basketball game stepped up.”
Favorite subject in school: “Definitely any sciences. I’m definitely a science person.”