B.J. Mack hadn’t yet played a game for the Charlotte Catholic basketball team, but he got his first college scholarship offers this summer – the University of Georgia and Virginia Tech.
The 6-foot-7, 240-pound freshman spent most of his summer and fall making the rounds to ACC basketball camps. He visted Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
Mack is 15 years old, but his focus is well beyond his years.
“Right now, I’m just focused on playing basketball and getting better, and I let my parents worry about the rest,” he said. “It’s fun to get the college attention and all, but I don’t get caught up in it. I still have a long way to go to prove I can be a great player. Hearing people talk about my potential just motivates me to work harder.”
Charlotte Catholic coach, Mike King, says Mack is living up to his reputation.
“We heard all about him from the time he was at Holy Trinity (in seventh grade) and there was like this whole legend of B.J. Mack,” King said. “The first time I got to see him play was last year and you could tell right away that he was a special talent with a mature game and skill set. Most guys that are 6-foot-7 at this age are going to be 170-180 pounds and uncoordinated. But B.J. has a level of coordination and skill that you just don’t see in high school freshman.
“With all his talent, he also has a great work ethic. He’s very humble and knows he has a long way to go.”
Mack is usually awake by 5 a.m. on school days, so he can be in the gym working on his game with father, Brian, who has mentored B.J. from the time he began playing at age four.
B.J. Mack says he first discovered his passion for the game when he would workout with former Providence Day standout guard, Jeremy Goode, who went onto to star at Mount St. Mary’s University before playing professionally overseas.
“I remember watching Jeremy workout with my dad and then seeing him play and I wanted to be like him,” Mack said. “That motivated me to work hard.”
Mack is off to a good start at Charlotte Catholic. He earned a spot in a veteran starting lineup, with three senior guards in Josh Brodowicz, Owen Winters and Jack Larkin as well as 6-foot-4 junior forward, Jimmy Abate. The Cougars regularly go nine-deep in a rotation that includes four more seniors – Sam Smith, Bailey McKee, Zander Gagnon, Justin McKinstry.
The Catholic freshman is shooting 54 percent from the field and 75 percent from the foul line. Like most freshman, Mack also has things to work on. He has fouled out of three games.
“I’m focused on trying to fit in with this team and this system,” said Mack. “I’m getting used to playing with my teammates and they are getting used to playing with me. We all want to help this senior class go out with a bang.”
King said “B.J. has been a perfect fit for us, because we had so many good players on the perimeter and now we have a guy that they can throw it into and he create his own offense and opportunities for his teammates. One of the best things about B.J. is that he is a great passer. He has really opened up our offense.”
King said his team has the pieces to contend a conference championship.
While Mack is focused on this season, he also is excited about the next four years at Catholic.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the (Charlotte Catholic) tradition here,” Mack said. “But I also want to help this team and this school do things that they have never done before.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.