If you’re a fan of high school basketball, you may remember that game between Turpin and Anderson in 2012. The boys high school game that made it on ESPN’s Top 10 Highlights. More specifically, “The dunk” that was highlighted by Turpin High Schools all-time leading scorer Zach McCormick. Standing at a generous 6’2” at the time, Zach proceeded to throw down one of the most amazing dunks in high school basketball history. A one-handed throw down off the backboard. It seemed as if he jumped 6 feet in the air. If you haven’t seen it, just Google “Zach McCormick ESPN Dunk” and watch it.
What this dunk highlight wouldn’t show you is how talented this young player really was at the time. From his ability to jump high into the air on every shot attempt, the ability to drive to the basket and score at will, or his ability to strip the ball and convert in the open court. McCormick would put on a show every game with his Turpin high school team. In 2014, Turpin went 9-3 in the ECC Conference for a 3 way share of the ECC title. A two-time all-state selection, Zach finished his career as Turpin High School’s all-time leading scorer with 1,387 points. He earned all-district honors three seasons and was the Eastern Cincinnati Conference 2014 Player of the Year. After numerous Division 1 offers came his way, McCormick chose Miami University Oxford as his college playing destination. Playing as a Freshman, Zach would average just under 4 PPG while learning to play at the college level. He would see action in 31 games with 4 starts. He was becoming a solid starter for the Miami Redhawks.
After that 1st season, McCormick was slated to have a breakout Sophomore season. A torn Labrum sidelined him for the last 12 games of the 2015-2016 season. It was at that point where the prior injuries and damage started to surface. At the start of the 2017-18 season, Zach was sidelined again with back issues. Increasing back pain and leg pain were prime indicators of more serious lingering issues. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that McCormick was diagnosed with a condition called Par’s Defect on his right side and herniated disks on his left side. (Cincinnati.com) Basically, these are both spinal related issues that cause extreme pain with minimal movement. When pars fractures are detected early, bone healing can occur and the issue can resolve completely without increasing the risk of future back problems. However, if a pars fracture fails to heal it can progress to permanent pars defect on both sides, called Spondylolysis. When this occurs, it can allow the segment to slip forwards over time, causing a condition called Spondylolisthesis. This condition significantly increases the chances of degenerative back conditions, disc herniation’s, and nerve impingement. (spinemd.com) Doctors indicated there’s a chance he could play next season, but with the caveat that one wrong collision could cost him the use of his left leg. So, his doctors and the university are being extra careful with rehab.
Today, Zach is making strides with rehab while also helping coach his fellow teammates from the sidelines. He is at least 90 days away from seeing any type of action in practice or high level activity. As a Sports Leadership and Management major, McCormick had previously expressed an interest in coaching the sport he plays and loves so much. Being on the sidelines this season is giving him valuable experience seeing what the coaches see and how they make decisions. For now, he is making the best of his situation. He is rehabbing every day and is right on pace to graduate next year. If you get a chance, send Zach some words of encouragement as he has represented Cincinnati and Turpin well in college hoops and beyond.