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McDonald’s Rasiles OK with move to W. Liberty

It’s not often a teenage boy and his parents come to an agreement on a big decision.

It was a cinch for the Rasiles.

When the family came home from a trip to West Liberty University in West Virginia, they had much to ponder. Zach, a senior at McDonald High School, was attempting to pick the right school to further his academic and athletic career — something he has pondered since he stepped on the basketball court as a freshman phenom.

Several universities were inquiring about the sharp-shooting guard, and after another visit to a nearby college, Zach wanted to talk to his parents about the decision.

“He just came home and said West Liberty is me. It’s what fits me and who I am as a player,” recalled his father and current high school coach Jeff Rasile. “We supported it 100 percent because that’s what my wife and I thought the whole time. We wanted him to make the decision, but privately we were thinking, ‘West Liberty, West Liberty.’ It’s just a perfect fit, so it worked out great.”

The Hilltoppers do, indeed, appear to be a good fit for Zach, who made his commitment official on Wednesday by signing his National Letter of Intent.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Rasile is one of the state’s all-time great 3-point shooters. His 358 career 3s are already an Ohio record, and the 140 he sank as a freshman set the state’s single-season mark.

West Liberty, one of the top Division II basketball schools in the country, plays a “run and gun” style that involves a fast pace and lots of 3-pointers. The Hilltoppers averaged 100.3 points per game last year and attempted 923 3s (making a conference-best 392).

While Zach’s focus is on his senior season with the Blue Devils, which starts in less than two weeks, he can’t help but be excited for what comes next.

“Their offense and the fact that they win a lot of games really stood out to me,” Zach said. “That’s something that I really want to be a part of. … And I thought I’d fit well into the system.”

Zach is putting together a miraculous high school career.

He averaged 35 points per game last year for McDonald, where he owns seven school records — including points in a game (52), points in a season (832), points in a career (2,026) and 3-pointers in a game (12), among others.

His numbers were certainly good enough to garner some Division I college consideration.

“The Division I (schools) he was looking at, unfortunately he had some bad luck with them because the coaches changed this year, so that was a little crazy for him,” Jeff Rasile said. “But West Liberty is ranked third in the country in Division II. The first game (of this season), they scored 129 points. The second game they scored 132. They’ve been to a national championship, and in the last 10 years, they have the highest winning percentage in the country in any division in basketball — over Duke, over Kentucky. They just have an elite Division II program, and it fit Zach perfectly.”

Just an hour and a half away, West Liberty is ideal in a number of ways.

Third-year coach Ben Howlett is 59-9 in his brief tenure. The Hilltoppers have been to eight Division II Sweet Sixteens and four Final Fours in the last 10 years and have a record of 299-32 during that span — the best among any program in the nation in any division. They’ve also led the nation in scoring and 3-pointers numerous times over the last 10 seasons.

While the winning was appealing, it wasn’t the only reason Zach was drawn to West Liberty.

“I went down to West Liberty in the summer and scrimmaged against their team,” he said. “I really liked the coach when I went and met him. I really liked the players, and I just really liked the environment. Once I got down there and met everyone, it was kind of an easy choice for me.”

It was an easy choice for everybody.

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