Sports

Mackey nabs EBA Player of the Year Award

Bahamian Willis Mackey Jr. was making a vlog when he was interrupted by a message stating that he was named the Liga Española de Baloncesto Aficionado (EBA) Player of the Year by EuroBasket, after having an outstanding rookie season. The announcement was posted on EuroBasket’s website on Tuesday, May 12.

In addition to receiving that honor, he was also named Forward of the Year, Import Player of the Year and was named to the All-Spanish EBA First-Team.

After seeing the message, he was taken aback, stating: “I just feel blessed.”

He said: “I feel like I worked so hard to get where I am and I did it all under the radar. I did a lot of things silently, and to be acknowledged by EuroBasket as one of the four players of the year in all of Spain, that, to me, is nothing short of a blessing. [To] do this in my first year just reassures me that starting my career here was the right choice, and it proves that God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Mackey plays for Aquimisa Carbajosa out of Salamanca, Spain, in the EBA, which is the fourth division of basketball in that country.

The Grand Bahamian said he owes it all to his teammates, coaches, family and everyone who believed in him.

He is still in Spain riding out the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 23-year-old appeared in 18 games this season, averaging 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to lead his team in both categories. Defensively, he averaged 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.

Mackey and his team were undefeated this season, sporting a perfect 20-0 win-loss record. They had their eyes set on a championship, but COVID-19 had other plans, ceasing league play. Mackey said he was very disappointed that the season was cut short.

One of his best memories from the season was a thrashing by his team over city rival, La Antigua, 95-59, back in January. According to Mackey Jr., there was a lot of media attention for that game and it was the biggest crowd they played in front of all season. Mackey played in 19 minutes and went 8-for-14 from the field. He scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Mackey said that game was also special because he saw the joy on his teammates’ faces. A few of his teammates had previously played for La Antigua. He said his biggest takeaway from the season is that no one is bigger than the team.

“My success comes directly from the success of our team. If we are doing what the coaches ask, everything flows, and it leads to easy baskets. Our style of play made the game easy for me. [I] feel like (in that system) I was always in the right place and was always able to make the right play. I learned a lot about myself as a player,” Mackey said.

Mackey was less than a minute into a vlog when he received the good news.

“At that moment, there was no choice about switching it up and talking about the good news,” Mackey said. “The video went from informative to emotional because I received the text about getting the player of the year award while filming. I did so much preparation for the original video, but it was just a genuine moment that couldn’t have happened at a better time because I was able to get my reaction on camera. That moment will be on my YouTube forever, and it’s something I will always remember.”

As for a return to Aquimisa Carbajosa, Mackey said that is unsure at the moment, as his agent will be presenting a lot of different opportunities and scenarios.

“Next season is up in the air. I’m in contact with my agent, who I’m sure will be presenting a lot of different opportunities to me, but that will be interesting because no one knows what will happen next season. I’m just keeping an open mind and looking forward to making the right moves to eventually get to the highest level of European Basketball, which is the Euro League,” Mackey stated.

Mackey made his debut for The Bahamas’ senior men’s national basketball team back in February. His YouTube page is WMII Vlogs.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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