WILLIS MACKEY JR, of Grand Bahama.
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#AFTER completing his first year with Mulhouse Basket in France, Grand Bahamian native Willis Mackey Jr is looking forward to returning to Europe in August to continue his professional basketball career.
#Mackey Jr, who averaged 11.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocked shots, is currently in town. He’s assisting former pro JR Cadot with his NEXT Basketball organisation’s inaugural Dream Again Basketball Camp at the Remnant Tabernacle of Praise auditorium on Carmichael Road.
#Now in his fourth year on the pro circuit, Mackey Jr said it has been quite a rewarding experience so far.
#“These countries treat so well, it’s really a good life out there,” Mackey Jr said. “I’ve been playing pretty good out there too, just trying to find my space, so it has paid off for me.”
#As a late bloomer who got started playing basketball at the age of 18, Mackey Jr said he’s seen such a vast improvement in his game from year to year.
#“I just really want to see how far I can go,” he stated.
#Looking back at his tenure, Mackey said a knee injury this year has caused him some setback, which included not being able to suit up and play for the men’s national basketball team that played and lost to the Dominican Republic on Monday in the FIBA Americas Basketball Championship at Baha Mar.
#“I was having a great season and I was really looking forward to things getting even better,” he said. “But it’s life. You get a setback, but you don’t allow it to keep you down.
#“I really would have liked to have played on the national team this year, but the injury forced me to have to sit out. I hope that I will be able to play in the next round in August before I head off to France to play in the upcoming season.”
#Although all of the focus on the international basketball has been centred around the National Basketball Association (NBA), Mackey Jr said Europe is just as competitive, although the salary earned may not be as lucrative.
#“We know that not everybody will get to play in the NBA,” Mackey Jr said. “But in Europe, you get to play a high level of basketball and you make some money. So once I can support my family, I’m satisfied.”
#Mackey, a 28-year-old 6-foot, 8-inch power forward, said he’s just eager to continue to play wherever his talent takes him and he can make a contribution to the growth and development of the sport in the country. He noted that he was just thrilled to have been invited by Cadot to lend his assistance to his basketball camp.
#Hopefully, he can share his expertise with some of the other camps while he’s home. Mackey, who played for Northwestern Ohio Racers in the NCAA college basketball, went on to play for Bordeaux during the 2020/21 season where he averaged 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists before he ended up at Mulhouse.
#On November 05, 2021, Mackey Jr tied his career high in points in a Mulhouse 81-64 win over Besancon with 23 points, shooting 8-for-8 from the two-point line, 1-for-2 from three for a 90.0% from the field. He also shot 4/4 from the free-throw line and added nine rebounds and an assist.
#Mackey came back and established his career high in rebounds with 14 in a 77-69 win for Mulhouse in a home game against Caen. He also produced a double-double with 16 points, an assist, a steal and a block.