TRANSITIONING TO FRENCH LEAGUE – Willis Mackey Jr. (left) officially announced the signing of his second professional contract. The Grand Bahama native will be taking his talents to the French Basketball League (FBL).Basketball, Sports June 23, 2020 FN Sports Reporter Shayne Stubbs
Following a successful debut as a professional basketball player in the Spanish Eurobasket Association (EBA), Willis Mackey Jr. officially announced the signing of his second professional contract.
The Grand Bahama native will be taking his talents to the French Basketball League (FBL). The EBA’s 2020 Player of the year will be playing in Bordeaux, France as a member of the JSA Bordeaux Metropole Basket team, of the National Men’s One (NM1) League of the FBL.
The Freeport News reached out to the 6’8’’ forward, who disclosed the decision to join the French League to improve his skills and benefit from the league’s competitiveness.
“I decided to switch leagues because I am trying to constantly improve myself, and also challenge myself. The league that I was in, was a good place for me to start my career, however, I am looking to go higher in the ranks and eventually work my way to the top of European basketball.
“I heard that it is really competitive (NM1), and with Pro B only one level higher in French basketball, I feel like everyone will be competing with hopes to get there. I’m excited because I get to play at a high level, and showcase my skills in front of a big city in Bordeaux, and of course compete for a championship.
“The league that I was in was no doubt competitive, but it was nothing compared to where I am going. I was fortunate to be on a team with full-time players. Some of the players on other teams were part-time, and didn’t practice as much as we did as a team. It definitely prepared me for this moment, and to be ready to take on this responsibility of leading a team in a higher division,” said Mackey.
The former Aquimisa Carbajosa Basketball Club standout won other top awards during his time in the EBA, inclusive of, Forward of the Year, Import Player of the Year and being named to the league’s All-First Team. He averaged 16.4 points per game on 58.4 percent shooting from the field, and shot an average of 42.6 percent from the three-point arch. The former Northwestern Ohio University Racer, also pulled down 7.6 rebounds, and finished the season with an average of 1.2 blocks per game.
Mackey Jr., who is currently back home in The Bahamas, admitted in his most recent video blog (Vlog), where he officially announced the signing that he has only been playing organized basketball for five years. He earned his degree in Forensic Accounting but decided to seek a professional basketball career after realizing he had a legitimate chance of earning a contract.
“I knew I had the possibility of making it overseas and I wanted to try my hand and see if it would work out. I can’t even begin to put into words how blessed I feel to say that my first season was such a success for me, in that it brought more opportunities.
“A lot of people know that as a professional basketball player, your second contract is harder. Your first year is very important and it helps push your career in the right direction. I hope that’s what I’m doing with my career and I feel pretty confident that’s what’s happening after five years of playing organized basketball. It feels good to be in this position,” he said.
Mackey Jr. disclosed that he signed his new contract a week ago and it felt good to finally share the news in an official capacity. One of the terms he disclosed was that he would receive 30-35 minutes of playing time per night. He’ll also receive living and transportation accommodations.
Mackey Jr. further credited his time playing at Northwestern Ohio University, which strengthened his work ethic and urgency as a player. After conversations with the coaching staff of JSA Bordeaux Metropole he is incredibly confident about the upcoming journey.
“I come from such a small school. You had to prove yourself more than others and I’m fine with that because I like to compete. That’s what I do. So, if I have to prove myself at a higher level, that’s just what I have to do.
“Of course, talking to the coaches and some of the former players from the team, I feel that put me in a really good situation to succeed. I’m going there to win games, not to be mediocre. I want the team to know that’s what I’m bringing to the table. I feel we can do that together.”
With a grateful heart, Mackey Jr. paid special tribute to his former EBA organization and teammates. He and the club went undefeated for the 2019-2020 season, leading up to the league’s suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the day we got there we never had any problems. I feel like I was family to them. They made me feel so comfortable being in Spain for my first time. They made that season so amazing and I feel as a group we couldn’t achieve what we achieved without each other.
“My coach was a huge part of my success – the constant practices, him pushing us and wanting us to be better because I know he saw the potential in us as a group and he didn’t want us to settle. I’m glad he was there to push and make us better every day. I think that’s going to help me so much in my future and career.”
He concluded his comments by expressing appreciation for the growing support from persons here in The Bahamas.