Related: Hummel also excited to play | GM Kay assembles Men of Mackey
Lewis Jackson knows a thing or two about running the show from the point guard position. The former Boilermaker standout from 2009-12 will get his chance for the Men of Mackey next month, and it is hard for him to hide his enthusiasm.
“I’m super excited,” said Jackson, who was in West Lafayette this week helping with Rapheal Davis’ youth camp at Harrison High School. “Seeing the fans’ response on Twitter when it was announced that I was playing, it got me even that much more excited to put back on Black and Gold and represent Purdue one more time.”
The Men of Mackey will participate in the 64-team TBT (The Basketball Tournament) beginning on July 23 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN with a battle against the Ballinteers, a team of mostly former University of Tennessee players.
The Men of Mackey are seeded eighth of the Columbus Regional with the first three rounds of the single-elimination event taking place in Ohio’s capital city. It is the second consecutive year a team of former Boilermakers will be playing in the event. And they hope to take home the winner-take-all $1 million prize, which will be awarded after the event concludes with the August 3rd championship game in Dayton, Ohio.
Jackson said it was extra important to have a strong Purdue contingent on the roster, more than the handful of Boilermakers that participated in the 20-team tournament last year. He got his wish, as well, as eight of the 10 Men of Mackey team members played for coach Matt Painter.
“This isn’t any disrespect to the guys that played last year, we just need more Purdue guys out there,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of talent in the Purdue basketball family and we look forward to showcasing it.”
Jackson’s path to earning a spot on the current Men of Mackey roster started last September.
The 5-foot-9 guard received a 31st birthday Instagram message back on Sept. 20 from Men of Mackey organizer and general manager Ryan Kay inquiring about whether Jackson was still playing a lot of hoops. Once it became evident that Jackson could play, the two went through the list of former Purdue players that might be available to fortify the 2021 team. Jackson used his ties to help convince guys to play.
“Once we were able to get A.J.(Hammons) on board, I was like, ‘cool,'” Jackson said.
And Rob Hummel falling short of making it to the 2021 Olympics as part of the 3×3 basketball competition also was serendipitous for the squad.
“I’m still in great shape,” Jackson said. “But, realistically, like we all know, it’s a different level of competition. You can’t simulate that type of play at a high level in open gyms. But being a competitor, I know I just need to be in shape. Rob and I talked about a lot of things with this team and we are optimistic. For me, I also hope to be able to make open shots and just play smart.”
Jackson had thought about getting a team together for several years. Discussions were always just that; discussions. But now, thanks to the work of Kay, it is reality.
“It’s like the stars are aligning for us,” Jackson said. “We expect to have a very competitive team.”
Make no mistake, Jackson is also excited to have non-Boilermakers Frank Gaines (Purdue-Fort Wayne) and Kyle Mangas (Indiana Wesleyan) to round out the team.
“I know Kyle is a big-time scorer and Frank showed last year he can fill it up,” Jackson said. “Coach (Ryne) Smith has some options.”
Playing for Smith, Jackson’s first college roommate, will be a plus for Jackson. They share much of the same philosophy.
“All of us were brought up on Coach Painter’s emphasis on defense,” Jackson said. “We know that can be our bread-and-butter. Having two 7-footers in A.J. and Isaac (Haas) will separate us, as well, on the defensive end.
“And I have all the confidence in the world in Ryne. He’s a college coach and a son of a coach and he knows which buttons to push with all of us.”
These days, outside of his basketball camp work with Davis, Jackson is spending most of his time on the training circuit. He lives in Marion, Ind., and works with former Boilermaker women’s hoops standout Courtney Moses (Delks) at the Complete Training Academy (CTA).
“I joined their program and really work on training kids, so I am kind of like a traveling trainer,” Jackson said. “It has been real cool.”
Membership Info: Sign up for GoldandBlack.com now | Why join? | Questions?
Follow GoldandBlack.com: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
More: Gold and Black Illustrated/Gold and Black Express | Subscribe to our podcast
Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited.