While Navy sophomore guard and former collegiate standout Mack McDonald is confident he has a cheering section for homecoming Wednesday when the Midshipmen host VCU at the Siegel Center at 7 p.m., he’s not sure where those supporters’ loyalties lie.
“I knew I was going to have a lot of family and friends that were free,” MacDonald said of his reaction when the schedule came out and realized Navy’s trip to the Siegel Center was on the schedule before the holiday break.
“A lot of them are VCU fans, though, so we’ll see where their true allegiance lies,” he added. “I must have a lot of family there.”
A second-team all-metro honoree as a junior, McDonald, a skilled shooter, averaged 24.2 points in the prep league and scored 30 points seven times for the Cougars that season. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds, 36% from three and 50.4% overall.
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McDonald, who picked up a basketball around age 2, was born and raised in the Richmond area and attended college from a young age.
“That’s basically all I knew until I got to the academy,” MacDonald said of his local upbringing.
At Navy, a member of the Patriot League, McDonald had a chance to play with former AAU teammate Douglas Freeman’s Caleb Kenney at Holy Cross, as well as Hopewell’s Alvin Edmonds IV, a 2021 All-Metro player. Bucknell. Macdonald and Kenny still write frequently.
“It’s great to see the Richmond boys doing well,” he said.
McDonald has a career-high 14 points in 18 minutes this season at Lipscomb on Nov. 30 and made all three 3-point attempts in 17 minutes in the Midshipmen’s Sunday win over Division III Washington College (Md.).
McDonald’s recruiting has been hampered by the pandemic, but he’s been fortunate to bond with coaches and players in Annapolis, Md.
“You just get the sense that the guys on the team and the players that came in earlier were really hard-working people,” he said. “People who genuinely care about something more than themselves – they care about the team, they care about the mission.”
For VCU (8-4), winners of three in a row, Wednesday’s game will also be the last before the holiday break. The Rams resume play and begin their conference slate at home against La Salle on Dec. 31 at 2 p.m.
Navy (7-4) was the Patriot League runner-up last year and was picked fourth in the league’s preseason poll.
VCU coach Mike Rhoades called Navy a “very efficient offensive team” that shoots a lot of 3-pointers in a press conference Monday — a factor that McDonald is sure to contribute to.
“They really attack you, they’ve got guys who can put the ball on the floor, but they really want to run their stuff, spread it out and chase you,” Rhoades said. “… They have good size, good athleticism, they shoot the ball well and then defensively they are tough as nails. And they play a lot on the road, so they’ll be ready to play us.”
Wednesday’s game will be available on television via MASN and ESPN+ and broadcast on the radio via 910 The Fan.
MacDonald previously played at the Siegel Center as part of the VCU Basketball Camp when he was in middle school and the Elite Camp when he was in high school. He has also been to several games as a fan over the years with family and friends.
“I’ve been there a lot, it’s going to be pretty familiar,” he said, adding that he’ll definitely think about the camp experience when he goes to speak on Wednesday.
“Absolutely, it might not be hard, the elite camp I went to is fresher in my mind, that’s when I had hopes of going to college to play basketball. Even though I’m not at VCU, I ended up making it on the floor for another college team. So it’s going to be really cool to be there.”
Note: Rhoades said graduate transfer forward Brandon Jones Jr., who missed Saturday’s win over Northern Illinois with back spasms, is feeling better but is still day-to-day.