Tracking the College Stars of the Future
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
By Thad Mumau
'Hot Hand Luke'
sold on Pirates and C-USA
Carolinaís basketball team has gotten itself a "Hot Hand Luke."
That would be
6-foot-4, 185-pound Luke Mackay, the Australian sharpshooter who has signed
with the Pirates after an earlier commitment to Oregon State.
glad the way things have unfolded," said Mackay, who just completed his
sophomore year at Lon Morris College. "They (things) definitely worked out
for the best."
committed to Oregon State in January and was set to sign with the Beavers in
the spring. But the Oregon State coaching staff left for New Mexico.
Luke then took
a visit to Albuquerque, but decided to become a Pirate.
everything about East Carolina, especially the coaches," he said, "I was
there for the Cincinnati game (Jan. 5) and really enjoyed it. The campus is
nice, they just built a huge weight room, and I like the gym a lot.
USA is another selling point. Itís a great conference. You get to play some
good competition. Cincinnati is always up there in the rankings. Marquette
and Memphis have good teams ó and Rick Pitino is going to have Louisville up
likes his chances of getting appreciable playing time.
has Ruben Douglass as the two guy, and heís going to play most of the
minutes," he said. "East Carolina graduated three guards, so the position is
open for competition. And all I wanted was the chance to compete for a spot.
East Carolina during the season, and at times, they would be right there in
games. If they had hit a couple of outside shots, it would have made a
difference. I feel I can help in that area."
Ditto, agreed one of the coaches who mentored Mackay last season.
"I feel he
can, too," said Rick Dotson, a Lon Morris assistant and the son of Bearcatsí
head coach Dale Dotson. "Luke is a great shooter. He is also a smart player
who knows how to play the game. He is a really good rebounder for a guard
and is hard-nosed and very aggressive and tough."
displayed some of that toughness by returning to action ahead of time this
past season after breaking his right (shooting) wrist. He was starting and
averaging around 15 points when he was injured in the fourth game. He
underwent surgery and had a screw inserted in the wrist.
"We figured he
was gone for the season," Dotson said, "but Luke worked hard, came back late
Mackay played a big part in Lon Morrisí post-season success. He came off the
bench to score 21 points in the Bearcatsí victory over Kilgore (TX) Junior
College in the juco regional semifinals. In that game, he hit a pair of
threes and sank 11 of 12 free throws.
returned, we were 22-0 and not about to change anything," said Dotson. "He
came in and played 10-12 minutes at first, then was playing about half of
the game off the bench."
averaged 16.1 points per game as a freshman starter, finished his junior
college career with an 88 percent free throw accuracy, while hitting over 40
percent of his shots from behind the arc.
"I donít just
stand out there and shoot threes," he said. "I try to take the ball to the
basket and get to the free throw line. Theyíre free, so I might as well make
them. Iíve always worked hard at my foul shooting."
Dotson notes that Mackay's ball-hawking savvy
and his deadly eye from the line can make a difference when the pressure is
"Luke is a
great guy to have in the game when itís late and youíre trying to protect a
lead," Dotson said. "I go back to his intelligence on the court, plus he
handles the ball well and you know heís going to make his free throws.
freshman, he was our starting point guard for about 10 games, and he did a
real good job. Heís a solid two guard who is a good handler and passer. He
has average quickness and is a good leaper. He isnít a great athlete, but is
a solid athlete."
solid, Mackay is more than solid as a student. He has a 3.7 grade-point
average and scored 1,250 on the SAT.
So, why junior
played my senior year at North Jackson High School in Alabama," said the
native of Perth, Australia. "I averaged 28 points a game and made all-state,
but nobody noticed. I was in a little town of about 2,000 people that was
kind of off the radar.
"Then, I was a
foreign exchange student, and some things werenít working out, so I went
home. I wasnít really recruited. I didnít graduate and actually got my GED
ECU was apparently in on the recruiting race
for Mackay from the beginning, but the PAC-10 Beavers lost the edge with the
"I think Luke
had a hard time choosing between East Carolina and Oregon State the first
time," Dotson said, "so it has all worked out. I think he will really help
the OSU situation changed, Mackay was glad the Pirates were still in a
"I was really
lucky they still had a scholarship and still wanted me," Mackay said. "Iím
looking forward to getting to Greenville."
happen this summer. Mackay is going home to Australia for a while, but he
plans to enroll for the second session of summer school.
"I donít need
the classes," he said, "but Iím going in order to get acclimated and to play
some basketball with the guys."
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