McKenley could be the 6-meter daughter of a former 6-meter 9-star NBA star, but Bryant promised nothing. She was not given a starting place right away – even with a Mamba team that needs a center. Training was often held Monday through Friday in Orange County, where most of the team’s players lived, which meant McKenley was expected to travel long distances from the San Fernando Valley. After training, she had to run extra to “catch up with the other girls,” as Zack recalls Bryant saying.
None of this, however, prevented Randolph from calling it “perfect form.”
He said MacKenly was “hypnotized”; McKenley said he was exaggerating. Although she said she was initially “super nervous” for a Bryant coach, “About a week later, she was, ‘Oh, he’s just an ordinary person.’ While some of the girls on the team called him “Coach Bryant,” McKenley said he “really called him Kobe.”
Where father and daughter easily agree: Bryant helped MacKenly improve immediately.
“I work a lot with her, but you can tell the difference with Kobe,” Zack said. When Kobe spoke, he didn’t have to say, “Pay attention.” ”
“He basically taught me how to play defense and how to spin,” McKenley said.
Asked to describe Bryant’s coaching behavior, McKenley added: “You’ll know when he’s crazy or not playing around, but he’ll never yell at you.”
The pandemic delayed the start of MacKenly freshman at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, California, but her game continues to grow. Although MacKenly shoots with his right hand and Zach is a left-hander, comparisons to the combination of strength, cunning and deft scoring of her father inside are common. Such is McKenley’s potential that she received oral scholarship offers from Louisville and Arizona before playing a single high school game.