C.B. Aycock senior Ashton McGee poses outside the school Friday after signing to play baseball for UNC, where McGee will enroll in January and give up his senior season for the Golden Falcons.
Paul Durham | Times
C.B. Aycock shortstop Ashton McGee (9), catching a pop-up during a game in the Golden Leaf Invitational last March in Fleming Stadium, will forego his senior season with the Golden Falcons to enroll at North Carolina in January and play for the Tar Heels this spring.
Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times
By Paul Durham
PIKEVILLE — C.B. Aycock High senior Ashton McGee has known since the summer after his freshman year that he would still be wearing a light blue uniform once his Golden Falcons career ended.
Now that change is coming a little quicker than McGee had originally anticipated as he formally announced his intentions Friday to enroll at the University of North Carolina in January and play for the Tar Heels this spring.
“That’s the plan,” said McGee on Friday during a ceremony in the Aycock media center in which he signed his National Letter of Intent to accept UNC’s scholarship offer. “I’m really excited about it and I think it’s a big opportunity I really can’t pass up. I’m going to go there and play in the spring season season.”
McGee, a Goldsboro resident who verbally committed to the Tar Heels after his freshman year at Aycock, will graduate ahead of schedule and become a college freshman within a month.
Aycock head coach Charles Davis agreed with his now former star infielder that it was the right move after speaking with UNC head coach Mike Fox, for whom Davis played at North Carolina Wesleyan College in the 1980s.
“Me and him talked three different times and, of course, my relationship with Coach Fox has always been good,” Davis said. “I was a hundred-percent behind that decision simply because Ashton is physically, emotionally and mentally mature enough to handle it.”
Another big reason for the move is that McGee will have former Falcons star Adam Pate, who will be a senior captain for the Tar Heels this spring, as a surrogate big brother in Chapel Hill.
“You couldn’t ask for a better mentor and it makes Theresa and Darren, Ashton’s parents, feel much better with Adam being up there with him,” Davis said.
Davis said that McGee will be just the third baseball player to enter college before his senior season in high school.
“The thing I look at it is that’s not only a compliment to Ashton that they think he can play at that level up there this year, but also a compliment to our program,” said Davis, who has had several players matriculate to UNC, including Pate, Garrett Davis and Rob Wooten.
McGee has been a central component in the CBA lineup since his freshman year. With the power of a corner infielder and the athleticism to play middle infield, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound McGee played third base his first two years at Aycock and then moved over shortstop this past spring.
“He can run, he can hit, he can play anywhere,” Davis said. “He’s just a kid that his work ethic is unreal. He wants to get better and he goes about his daily business to get better.”
McGee, who helped Aycock reach the state 3-A championship series in 2015, said he’s not sure where he will play at UNC but he will have a chance to earn time right away.
“I don’t think it’ll be a redshirt but I’ll have to go in there and earn a spot,” he said. “I can’t just be given a spot but I’m going to go in there, work hard and see what happens.”
In three seasons as a starter for CBA, McGee hit .299 with 43 RBIs, 14 doubles and four home runs. But it wasn’t just his offensive production in the middle of the lineup that Davis will miss.
“He’s a great teammate and so humble,” Davis said. “Everybody loves him to death. He doesn’t go for the spotlight or the limelight, he just goes out and gets his work done.”
While McGee’s early commitment to UNC steered most in-state teams away, he said that he still got calls from programs such as Miami, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss as well as plenty of attention from regional pro scouts. McGee said that he was told he could potentially be taken between the second and sixth rounds of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft next June.
But his mind was made up and his decision was tinted light blue.
“I just felt that I needed to go to college and get a degree and I wasn’t going to go for anything that wasn’t life-changing money,” he said.
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