McVeigh with Lofty Goals and Tricks Up Sleeve for 36ers

Written for by Chris Pike

If the Tasmania JackJumpers wanted to add infectious energy and enthusiasm for the inaugural NBL roster then Jack McVeigh was the perfect fit, but he has set his sights on becoming the best power forward he can with some tricks up his sleeve for his old club.

Having grown up in Canberra and after attending college at Nebraska, McVeigh got his chance in the NBL at the Adelaide 36ers starting back in the 2018/19 season.

He instantly became a favourite for the Adelaide crowd with his passion plain for everyone to see, but he saw himself as a power forward in the league. Being at the 36ers that meant battling with Daniel Johnson for a larger role would always be a challenge.

With the Sixers frontcourt already locked in with Johnson and Isaac Humphries, likely McVeigh's only two old teammates he'll face on Thursday night, McVeigh wanted to take his talents elsewhere to challenge himself to earn a larger role in the position he felt best suited to.

Now it all comes full circle for McVeigh this Thursday night when his JackJumpers host the 36ers at MyState Bank Arena, and it's only going to be fitting that he spends time matched up on Johnson.

He does have some tricks up his sleeve from their initial match up at the Blitz, the only problem and he's fully aware of it, is that Johnson isn’t exactly short on having a bevy of his own tricks.

However, in the bigger picture McVeigh does admit to feeling like it's more than just a normal game coming up against the Sixers for the first time, but really with Sunday Dech battling to be back, Johnson and Humphries are his only former teammates he'll battle.

"I've always got some tricks up my sleeve, but he's got many, many a trick up his sleeve too. It's definitely something that I'm looking forward to," McVeigh said.

"He is someone that just watching him train and play every day, and seeing what a pro he is, he is someone who has helped me a lot. 

"Playing against Adelaide will be exciting, it will be lots of fun and that's what this is all about. Going out there and playing hard, but then afterwards shaking hands and talking about all the good times.

"I would say it's definitely different than any other game, especially with it being the first time. Everyone keeps asking how I'm feeling, but if I'm honest they have a whole different team. 

"You'll always still have a love for the brand of the Adelaide 36ers, but it's really about the relationships that you build and for me, there's only a couple of guys there that I really know well and who are close friends. Everyone else is somewhere else. 

"It's almost like another game, but you always feel a bit of a connection to the brand and club, and that will always be there to some degree."

McVeigh will always have fond memories of his three seasons in Adelaide to open his NBL career and more recently of leading the North Adelaide Rockets to an NBL1 Central championship while putting up 26.5 points a game, but he just felt it was in his best interests to move on.

The 25-year-old has ambitions to be a starting four man in the NBL and that was always going to be a bit of a wait for that to potentially happen in Adelaide, so McVeigh wanted to step out of his comfort zone and jump at the chance to be part of the first ever JackJumpers team.

"I will always love Adelaide and my time there helped me grow into a man, and I had some of the best times," McVeigh added.

"Both the 36ers and Adelaide as a place, everyone knew how passionate I was about it, but for me I wanted to take that step of being uncomfortable, of growing and having to adapt to a new situation. For career-wise, it's always hard when you have DJ there and everyone knows he is Mr Reliable. 

"So it's tough to try to play his position but I wanted to learn how to take that next step in my career, and also just learn from a new bunch of guys. I knew they were bringing in Clint and coach talked about what they were going to do and the culture they were going to lie down, and I wanted to be part of that. 

"It sounded like it was going to be something special so I wanted to be part of that, and get on board to learn and help out where I can."

Now when McVeigh did sign with the JackJumpers, coach Scott Roth didn’t make any promises in terms of his role or playing time. McVeigh knew that he just had to get to Hobart, work hard and earn whatever chances he was going to receive and he was more than happy with that.

"Scott didn’t make any promises to anyone when we signed, that's for sure, but I wanted to come here and buy into his system and train hard, and see how it goes," he said. 

"Right now I'm really happy with what my role is and how it's going, and really whatever it takes to win is what I want to do. Everyone always wants a bit more of a role and it would be silly to say it any other way. 

"Every player wants two more minutes or two more shots, but at the end of the day it's about what can we do right now to help the team win. I'll keep learning and getting better as a player, I'm only 25 still, so I still feel I have much more room for improvement. I'll just keep working to be a legitimate starting four man in the league."

The JackJumpers made history last Friday night by opening the #NBL22 season with an overtime victory over the Brisbane Bullets at MyState Bank Arena.

It was a night to savour for everyone in Tasmania as the state rejoined the NBL for the first time since 1996, and it's an occasion that McVeigh will forever treasure to have been part of.

"Just for the state and the club, you couldn’t have asked for a better night. At the end of the day this is sport and we never know what the outcome is going to be because you can do everything right and lose, or do everything wrong and still win," McVeigh said.

"We just managed to pull it out and get the win at the end. It was the first time in that place for a regular season game and the crowd was going crazy. It was just awesome.

"You could feel the energy there. We've been saying how much Tasmania in a whole has been getting around the club and the organisation, and on that night it really did sum it all up. 

"It came together perfectly and it was exactly what we wanted to build on. In terms of the first night, we couldn’t ask for anything better and now we build on it and build up a brand that the people of Tasmania can be proud of."

Not only moving teams and states, but joining a new franchise was a daunting decision for McVeigh to have made in the off-season, but it was a challenge he was instantly excited about once the talks began with the JackJumpers.

McVeigh loved the thought of helping to build the culture of a club from the ground up and ever since he arrived, it has lived up to, and surpassed, every expectation that he held.

"First off, moving interstate is always a combination of being stressful and exciting. You've got all that stuff of building a home and even if you take basketball out of that whole experience, you have to meet new people, make new friends and all of that has been awesome," McVeigh said.

"But then in terms of just building the basketball up, it's been awesome. Everyone always says at the end of the season that we should have done this or I wish we did things the right way, but here we have that opportunity from the jump. 

"So it's really good just to have the 15 guys and everyone from the coaching staff to the people working upstairs, we all want to do this the right way from the jump. We want to lay that foundation and build that culture. 

"Just by being part of that, it takes a lot of learning and sacrifices, but there's a lot of fun times too. It's been really cool and it has been an experience that has helped me grow and that I'll remember forever."

The passion and excitement the people of Tasmania had for having a team back in the NBL was on show during the Blitz, but it went to another level with the first official game of the season last Friday night.

But McVeigh and the rest of the team don't want to just be happy being part of the NBL, they are setting their sights on a successful season from here.

"Last week showed the style of basketball we're going to play and we are going to play hard. That's what we are going to do and when you have 12 or 15 guys playing hard, making sacrifices and playing for each other you are going to win some games," he said.

"We are locked in and we have the goal of making the playoffs in our first year, and if we win games and build it the right way then the fans are going to keep coming and the club will make that establishment. We all want to be part of that."

Since his NBL1 Central season finished with that North Adelaide championship, McVeigh has settled into life in Hobart and hasn’t left with the JackJumpers playing all their Blitz games in Tasmania and then having Round 1 at home last Friday.

They now have another home game this Thursday against the 36ers, but then it's their first road trip together to head up to Cairns for Saturday night's clash which McVeigh is looking forward to.

"We have not had to travel for a while. I was travelling back and forth from Adelaide when I first got here a couple of months ago to finish off that, but other than that we haven’t left," McVeigh said.

"So we'll jump on that plane for our first road trip together even though we've been up to the north of Tassie a few times with those drives. But flying to Cairns and preparing to play a game the next day, and then flying back will be a good team experience to get that one out of the way. 

"We'll go up there together as a team, get some beautiful weather up in Cairns and hopefully come back with a win."


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