High School Basketball

Quite a hoops journey: Columbia native Tevin Mack focuses in on final college stop

As Tevin Mack gets ready to join his third school in the past five years, the Columbia native has no regrets about how his college basketball career has played out.

“It has been quite a journey but I wouldn’t trade it for nothing in the world,” Mack said this week after a workout with trainer Marseilles Brown at the AC Jackson Wellness Center. “Definitely was a learning process and everything happens for a reason. I never thought I would go to three schools. It’s crazy. There are some things I can’t really explain. But everything happens for a reason.”

Mack signed with Texas coming out of Dreher High School and spent two seasons with the Longhorns. He was suspended in January of 2017 for a violation of team rules and was granted his release a month later.

Mack announced he was transferring to Alabama a few months later. After sitting out a season because of NCAA transfer rules, he was part of the Crimson Tide’s NCAA tournament squad this year.

The forward appeared in 34 games, 24 starts and was third on the team in scoring (8.7 ppg) and was fourth in double-figure games with 16.

Alabama went through a coaching change after the season with Nate Oats replacing Avery Johnson. But Mack, who graduated from Alabama in May, said he would not have returned to the Crimson Tide even if Johnson was still there.

“I got my degree from there and it was really good for me to go and get my undergrad,” Mack said of Alabama. “Basketball-wise, I wanted to go somewhere I can show my full skill set. At Alabama, I feel like I wasn’t able to do that sometimes.”

Mack’s top two choices for his next stop are Clemson and Oregon. He also is hearing from Illinois, Georgia Tech and St. Louis. He visited Clemson earlier this week. Tigers’ coach Brad Brownell recruited Mack when he was in high school, so there is familiarity with the program.

Clemson is losing four starters in guards Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell and forwards Elijah Thomas and David Skara. UNC Asheville transfer forward Jonathan Baehre also will miss the season after suffering an ACL injury.

“They were in my top five and took official visit there in high school,” Mack said of Clemson. “Me and coach Brownell got a good relationship from high school. He recruited me heavily. It gives them an advantage over most schools. Facilities up there really got better since I was there last time. Littlejohn [Coliseum] is renovated out.

“But those things aren’t important. I want to go to a place to showcase my skills and be a leader, and Clemson does give me a chance to do that.”

Oregon also has a huge need for a scorer with only seven scholarship players on the roster after New Mexico transfer Anthony Mathis committed this week. The Ducks made it to the 2017 Final Four and made the NCAA tournament this year after surprising run to win the Pac-12 tourney title.

Mack likely will visit Oregon sometime early next week. The biggest drawback if he picked Oregon would be playing thousands of miles away from friends and family.

“I have been to Texas and been far out,” Mack said. “I’m not really pressed to go to far, but if it is the best thing for me than I will. Definitely coming home and playing in front of my family and having them drive just a couple of hours would be cool.”

Mack plans to announce his decision sometime this month and wants to be on campus by the second session of summer school. Clemson is representing the United States in the University Games in Italy next month. So if Mack selects the Tigers, he would want to be on campus to make the trip with the team.

Mack has been busy this summer working on his game. He entered his name in the NBA Draft process back in April before withdrawing. He spent the last month working out at the Skills Factory in Atlanta with other potential draft hopefuls, including Auburn’s Bryce Brown. Several NBA teams watched him work out and he got feedback before taking his name out of the draft.

“I think my game definitely took another step competing against those guys every day. When you are a pro, all you do is play basketball,” Mack said. “I was waking up every day and going to work out. It was like a lifestyle for me for a month and a half basically. They gave me feedback and let me apply it to my game and work over it this summer.”

Mack said he has been concentrating on getting better as a ball handler to go along his knack for outside shooting. During his workout Wednesday, he drained over 100 three-pointers with his silky smooth jump shot.

“My main goal now is to get drafted. I got the degree and can focus and hone in my basketball career, which I want to do for the next 10 or 15 years,” Mack said. “I am going to put my all into that for the next eight or nine months on somebody’s campus.”