Bearkats forward Marquel McKinney will not be a walk-on when his sophomore season rolls around. McKinney earned himself a scholarship from the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team, after performing on the Kats short rotation this past season.

Head coach Jason Hooten confirmed on Friday that McKinney would receive a scholarship and praised the freshman for the way he carried himself when forced to step up and do more than expected.

“At the end of the day he’s a great kid who worked really hard and deserves to be on a scholarship, so we’re going to give him one for next year,” Hooten said.

McKinney, a 6-4 wing player out of Cypress Springs, played 14.4 minutes a game in Southland Conference play and was the eighth man in the Bearkats eight-man rotation. Sam Houston suffered from injuries and eligibility issues early in the season, which presented McKinney with a chance to play extra minutes. While the team struggled to shoot high percentages from the perimeter, McKinney was considered to be one of the better spot-up shooters on the team and shot 33 percent from the 3-point line in league action.

“I just play my role,” he said in an interview after practice on Feb. 24. “I come off the bench, I play defense, get rebounds, get stops and knock down open shots. That’s what coach wants me to do, that’s what I do.

“I really wasn’t expecting to get as much playing time as I am, not even close to it. I was given the opportunity to play a lot and I’m making the best of that.”