Caleb McGuire was just coming into his own when his basketball career at Erskine Academy ended last winter.

Over the second half of the season, McGuire averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding. The 6-foot-7 forward has continued that progress this year for the University of Maine at Augusta and displayed a few talents that few knew he possessed.

“He’s been such a pleasant surprise,” UMA coach Jim Ford said. “He has got unlimited potential.”

McGuire played the post most of his time at Erskine and seldom got a chance to display his outside shooting ability.

“I’ve always had the jump shot,” he said.”That wasn’t my role.”

The shot has emerged for the Moose this season where he’s shooting 47 percent overall and 38.1 percent from the three-point line.

“He has developed a wonderful shot from a little further out,” Ford said. “He’s now become one of our best sharpshooters from the three-point line. When he takes it you say it’s going to go in.”

McGuire has also shown an ability to handle the ball, sometimes bringing it up the floor. He’s still adjusting to the physicality of the college game, though. He was matched up against a 6-foot-10, 250-pound player in the first game for UMA at the New Hampshire Technical Institute tournament. He’s been pushed around a little as he learns the physical aspects of the college game and has frequently found himself in foul trouble.

“I feel like I’m stronger than I was last year,” McGuire said, “but I still have a long way to go.”

Ford saw McGuire play a number of times in high school, often while watching his son Sean play against him at Edward Little. He liked the progress he saw from McGuire’s junior to senior year and expects more of the same from this season to next. McGuire called his decision to attend UMA a no-brainer.

“It was the most practical,” he said. “It’s close to where I live and financially it was the way to go. That was a major deciding point.”

Basketball figured into his decision, too. But it’s been a struggle so far for the Moose, who have played strong competition like Husson, Bates and the University of Maine at Farmington with undermanned squads. They began the season with 15 players, then went to 11, 7 and at one time just five players. In weekend losses in Vermont, the Moose played with just seven players. That hasn’t diminished McGuire’s enthusiasm.

“I’m having a great time with the program,” he said. “If we get a couple of guys, we have a chance to make the playoffs.”

Ford hopes to expand his roster during the second semester, and his enthusiasm at this point is directed toward his regulars, led by McGuire, Brandon Rogers and Keith Chesley.

“It’s all coming together,” Ford said of McGuire. “I am so pleased with him. He’s always hustling. He’s back on defense every single play.”

McGuire averaged 9.4 points and 3.2 rebounds a game and would like to improve on both those numbers.

“I’d like to get better rebounding and get better in the paint,” he said.

McGuire is majoring in business administration and said he’d like to open his own business some day. He’s already made a lot of friends on and off the team and has no plans to transfer.

“I’d like to stay at UMA,” he said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ