In the preseason, LFO girls’ head basketball coach Dewayne Watkins mentioned senior post player Mackenzie Begley as a player that had the potential to play college basketball.
That potential will soon become a reality as the four-year Lady Warrior varsity player has committed to continuing her career at Birmingham Southern College.
Watkins said Begley had offers on the table from several schools in the Southeast and from as far away as Pennsylvania.
“She’s a really good student and she understands what it takes to set a goal and to do the work that will help her achieve that goal,” the coach explained. “Mackenzie is a player who will make it at the next level.”
Begley, who began playing basketball in the fourth grade, said getting to play in college was important to her.
“When I was younger, I looked up to the girls that played basketball in college,” she began. “I wanted to grow up and be like them so (that) maybe one day someone out there would look up to me.”
She said the opportunity to play for the Panthers came about after she was invited by a BSC coach to one of their elite camps.
“I really enjoyed it,” she explained. “I stayed in touch with the coaches and, in September, I went back, got to tour the campus and met with the coaches and some of the players. BSC is a really great place and I think what I like most (is) how much people were involved with sports, clubs and basically any activity on campus. It felt like there was always something to do.”
Begley said she thought that her versatility on the floor would benefit her new team.
“I have the ability to shoot the three and (play) wing on the outside, but (I’m) also able to play in the post and guard bigger girls when I need to,” she explained.”
Watkins agreed and said that Begley had the skills and knowledge to play in practically any type of offensive or defensive system.
“Mackenzie fell in love with the process of getting better,” the coach said. “Each year, she improved at least one part of her game. I coached her hard as a freshman and I continued to coach her hard because she had the goal of playing at the next level. The players in our program who really want to play at the next level get the most out of playing here at LFO. If a player is just playing for recreation, they can have success as well, but we are really trying to help kids use basketball as a vehicle to get to the next level. I have a passion for this and Mackenzie bought into that vision early.
“I am so proud of her and it has been an honor to coach her. I am excited for her and her family. They have gone through the process the right way.”
Begley said she wants to study high school education and one day become a history teacher.
Birmingham Southern College is an NCAA Division III member and a member of the Southern Athletic Association, which also includes the likes of Oglethorpe University, Berry College and Sewanee (Tenn.). The Panthers were 14-12 last season and 6-8 in conference play, falling to Rhodes College in the SAA tournament quarterfinals.