AFTER a number of years displaying his passion and energy in the National Basketball League season, Rookie Me Central took the opportunity to get to know and catch up with Tasmania JackJumpers stars, Jack McVeigh. Previously playing college basketball with Nebraska, captain of Australia at the Under 19s World Championships in 2015, McVeigh is making his opportunities with the newest franchise and put in the work to help the team be successful and bring the enthusiasm.
McVeigh opened up firstly what got him into basketball from the beginning, and shared his highlights from his journey and how he overcome his challenges.
“My mum played basketball, she was an Australian junior and was very good her whole career, NSW Metro and represented Australia and I had an older brother that played,” McVeigh said. “My mum coached me till about under 16’s so my mum was defiantly was a huge basketball influence of my life especially when it came to starting young and developing the love for the game. “It’s always good when you have a positive role model especially if it’s your mum.
“In the field we work in and the mindset a lot of us have, it always feels like we’ve never done enough. You wake up every day, you’re striving to be better, there’s new things you’re trying to chase and It’s important to stop and reflect. “I would say I’m very proud of the things I’ve accomplished and being able to travel the world and always playing for Australia.
“There’s still a lot more that I want to achieve especially in terms of winning and learning how to win but one of those highlights would be winning this off-season with North Adelaide Rockets. “We got it done, great bunch of guys, coach was awesome and that whole experience of kind of winning the first thing that I’d won as a professional and in the senior level. “That was defiantly an amazing experience from a learning experience, but also finally reaching a goal that I’d set my mind to and accomplished, that’s defiantly one of the biggest highlights of my career so far.
“One of the challenges faced was that in under 18’s, I didn’t make the state team, which was definitely a shock for me. “I thought I was going to make the team, felt like I deserved to make the team. “When my name wasn’t called, I’ll never forget walking out tears. “Couple of the boys thought I was joking, because we had to walk past the guys on the way to leave the gym after we had gone into the room and found out and couple of them thought I was joking until they got close and realised I was definitely not joking.
“Handling that knockback and learning from that was definably a pillar in terms of resilience and learning to grow but the cool part about that was that there was a guy that got sick and couldn’t go and I ended up getting called up and I was overall third at nationals in points and rebounds in the team I wasn’t meant to make. “The idea of believing in myself, trusting the work I was putting in and keeping that confidence even if other people don’t believe in me. If you know what you want, you got to put your head down and work and go grab it even if the odds are looking slim.”
Playing overseas and success in NBL1
Prior to playing in the NBL competition, McVeigh shared the challenges playing overseas as well as playing in the NBL1 Central competition last year and sharing the experiences playing with North Adelaide, where he went on to win the grand final MVP and competitive it is.
“The biggest thing about playing overseas is the lifestyle difference. Basketball is pretty similar,” he said. “You’re going to run the sets, you’re going to play a similar style of basketball, the rules are the same but the biggest difference about going overseas is that cultural difference, whether it’s America, where they can still speak English or it’s Europe and English is their second language. “You’re going to face things that are slightly uncomfortable the way people go about things is a little different and it’s also a great learning experience. “In Nebraska, in the middle of America and I made some awesome friends that come from a whole different country but sometimes it feels like a whole different planet. I’ve been grateful enough to go to China four or five times and seeing that cultural difference and being able to experience it first hand is something that is life changing.
“North Adelaide Rockets took me in. I came back from America and came to Adelaide and played the first season of Adelaide and wanted to stay. “I didn’t play much in my rookie year, learning about the league, getting my body a bit better and becoming a better basketballer player and being a pro. North Adelaide came and believed in me, gave me shot and gave me a second home. In terms of the love for the club and all that good stuff, it was a 10 out of 10 experience. “Taking that into NBL1, because it was still Central and that was still the Premier League. “When it first joined taking into the NBL1 was that small little upgrade with that professionalism. It was a really exciting thing to be apart of.”
“It was defiantly disappointing seeing NBL1 South not finish it, the way it was going. There was some good Tassie teams that were coming first and second. Nick Marshall in Mount Gambier was going to make a good run, there was a lot of good teams and talent. Hopefully this off-season, we’ll get to see that all the way through.”
Experience with Jack Jumpers, coached under Scott Roth and goals
After three seasons with the Adelaide 36ers, McVeigh opened up how he is enjoying his experience and what it means to be coached by Scott Roth as well as goals he hopes to accomplish from a personal perspective .
“It’s been really good. He sold a vision. We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play defense, we’re going to bring the energy, we’re going to get after teams,” McVeigh said. “That’s something I can easily buy into, trying to get better at every day on the defensive end. “All those little things is what he sold, he doesn’t settle for anything less and it’s easy to follow from a guy like that.
“He loves the game. He brought over Jacob Chance, who does an incredible job as assistant coach. We’ve got Mark Radford, Jack Fleming and the rest of the coaching staff who does a really good job. “Easy to buy in, easy to show up and listen to what they’re saying and as part of a professional athlete, when it’s easy to buy in what they are saying, it makes the job a lot easier.
“In terms of being apart of the Jack Jumpers, It’s been amazing. Being apart of something new is always special and we’ve brought in a bunch a guys that are awesome, learning from lots of them, making brand new relationships, because I’ve never been on a team with any of them. “There was a couple of the boys I grew up so we got to re-kindle some friendships and I’ve been loving that entire experience. “Playing in front of the fans, you can tell they were itching to watch some NBL at home and cheer for a home team because they’ve sold out every single game. “They’ve been loud and brought the energy. What more could you ask for? “That’s the dream of an athlete is to go out there and play for some fans that are cheering you on.
“I don’t really set any crazy goals personally, in terms of personal output. I’m just trying to be the best version of myself everyday, whether that’s rock up every day and playing hard, giving 100 per cent, locked in and learning. “On the team, team goals every year, ours in particular is firstly to build a foundation, build a foundation and build that culture from there. Every team and sports club talks about it. “Every team you’ve been on always says ‘Man if I started it fresh, I’d do it this way, I’d do it that way or we could have that opportunity. “We don’t want to mess it up. It’s about going about things the right way and doing the work, all those types of things and that will lead us to where we want to be.”
Motivation starting up blogging
Picking up a new hobby and starting up a blog website, McVeigh shared his reasons of starting up a blog, what he hopes to get out of it, and as a professional basketball player, the importance of having downtime.
“There’s multiple things I’ve always enjoyed. One, I really like talking to people and trying to build a community in that way and get to know more people and put some content out there. Another reason why is because I was writing a lot when I moved to Tasmania. “It was a new experience. “I didn’t know not a single person down here. I found some solace in my notes and I thought. You know what, I’m going to give this a crack.
“I would love to start my own podcast and try make a positive impact out there when I can. This is kind of the first steps of me learning how to do that, putting my thoughts into words and articulating them a little bit better. “Who knows where it can take me? “If I can help one person and one person enjoys it, then the blog did its job or if it helps me then the blog did its job. “It’ll defiantly be something I’ll be pursing further, releasing some content, basketball stuff and all that good things. It’s a passion of mine that I’ve finally took the courage to put it out there, give it a crack and not scared of failing.
“It’s extremely important for all people, particularly in our job when we face a lot adversity. “We go into the workfield every single day and we lose or we fail consistently. Sometimes it can break people, you can see it wear down on people. “That’s why you need to stop, reflect, be proud of what we’ve achieved, take a moment of solis and be like “I’ve put in a lot of work.” “Even though we didn’t win that game, I’m proud of my efforts and I’ve done a great job.
“All those types of things, getting to know yourself a little bit better and taking a breath, stopping in the madness and realising it’s pretty good what we are all doing. “Taking five minutes out of your day for yourself. It doesn’t have to blogging, you can be sitting there or listening to your favourite song is an important part of the day.”
COVID-19 Interruptions and motivation within the team
With COVID going through the team and not playing for a few weeks, and the match against the Breakers postponed, McVeigh shared how the team stayed motivated during these uncertain times, not overloading as a professional basketballer.
“Most of the boys have been back the last two days, sadly I haven’t. It’s pretty easy to get to get motivation,” McVeigh said. “We all love the game and sometimes being away from it for a week re-motivates guys even more, just how much they miss it, miss hanging out with the boys, miss getting shots up and miss playing hard. “Everyone’s really excited to get the gym, get back to work and go out there for the end result and get a win in front of our crowd is what we are looking forward to and it’s easy to stay motivated for that.
“In terms of physical, it’s not too bad. “We couldn’t really do too much compared to a regular basketball load, where you are on your feet three to four hours, full lift. “In terms of physicality, it’s about trying to do as much as you can, whether it’s hitting the bike, we stay in shape ready to go is the important part. “Mentally staying fresh is just as important. “A weeks’ break is not the worst thing in the world, like a lot of the times we’ll have the FIBA window and stuff like that. “Hopefully the rest of the season goes smooth and we can get back on more into a routine and rhythm.”
Enjoyment of team environment and meaning of basketball
Whilst the NBL has been competitive for a number of years and the level of competition rising, McVeigh shares what the sport of basketball means to him and the enjoyment of being in a team environment.
“Everyone always talks about after it’s all said and done, you won’t remember how many points you’ve scored, how many rebounds you got, you’ll remember the laughs in the change rooms after or the big dive on a loose ball or cheering on a teammate or being cheered on. When you go away from the game, you miss being part of that team, people making sacrifices or picking someone up when they are down or had a bad day and the laughs post practice. There’s always things you always miss and the things you enjoy about the game. When it comes down to it, it’s hard to replicate that in other parts of life. The locker room banter is another it’s all the stuff that it makes it easier to show up every day. At the end of the day, performance happens when you’re enjoying the workplace everyday.”
“A year or two ago, the sport basketball means everything but it has shifted a little bit as it’s become a tool or a friend. Basketball’s almost a friend. I love hanging out with it, love getting buckets and I love the whole process of basketball. At the end of the day, it’s a complicated way to put a ball in a hole but there’s something so beautiful about it, the way it brings people together and gives something to cheer for.”
“The rep leagues that people play in is a community sport and that’s what makes basketball particular special. We saw it particularly with the Boomers winning that bronze medal and how people rallied around them and how the likes of Patty Miles has in the community. It’s all those little things that sport creates and sport spreads that positive message and health and all the good things you love about it.”
Lastly, McVeigh spoke of his mentors who have helped shape who he is today, and shared advice to those wanting to improve their game.
“I like picking small things from people here and there. “In terms of my career, I’ve had a lot of great mentors and people that have helped me out,” McVeigh said. “From people like Daniel Johnson, Brendan Teys, Ramone Moore, Joey Wright, just to name a few at Adelaide that really supported me . They helped me believe in myself and things “I’ve learnt from Jacob Wiley, in terms of people that I’ve been around that have impressed me and helped me build some of my good habits. “There’s so many people that have been a good influence that I could write a list, but there have been a lot of good influences.
“If you want to do it long term, if you want to make a career there’s two main things. “Be willing to learn and make sure you’re having fun. “You’re not going to last if you’re not having fun playing the game, hanging out with friends, bringing them up and playing one on one. “You’ve got to be willing to learn, listen, put it into your game and grow from there.”