Freshman walk-on Macke scores first career points with WVU basketball
Saturday’s 83-57 win for West Virginia over Nicholls turned out to be a special one for freshman walk-on Spencer Macke.
Not only did Macke’s father and grandmother, who was celebrating her 80th birthday, attend the game, but Macke himself managed to sink two free throws following a technical foul late in the game for his first career points as a Mountaineer.
The game was the third one Macke had appeared in this season for the Mountaineers--all of them coming when West Virginia had a convincing lead and a victory was imminent.
But that still didn’t stop Macke, from having some nerves prior to shooting the two free throws. The freshman’s legs were heavy as he said a prayer when he was heading to the line.
“I just didn’t wanna airball it,” Macke said. “That was the only thing I was thinking about.”
What followed the two made free throws was total jubilation from the West Virginia bench and the crowd inside the WVU Coliseum, including the student section, who chanted “Macke!” and “We want Macke” on Saturday and when he made a late appearance during Thursday’s win against Austin Peay.
Sophomore Emmitt Matthews, who finished the game with 10 points, was the first to greet Macke after the free throws with a hug followed by the rest of the West Virginia players on the floor.
The reason behind the team’s excitement and ovation for Macke is because they see him as more than just a walk-on and valuable player to have in practices.
Behind the scenes, Macke’s teammates have taken notice of the amount of work he puts in which includes shooting at least 500 shots per day.
“People don’t see the hard work that he puts in,” junior Taz Sherman said, who Macke replaced on the floor with 1:38 left in the game.
“He puts in a lot of work for a walk-on. It’s not easy because you’re not going to play most likely every game so when he gets in, we try to root for him as much as possible because we want the best for him. At the end of the day, that’s our guy. He’s also a part of the team.”
Macke’s college basketball career could’ve gone a different direction with the Fort Thomas, Kentucky native weighing opportunities from Coastal Carolina and Division III schools such as Adrian College, Dominican and Kentucky Wesleyan.
But it was a connection to West Virginia head coach Bob Higgins that would help Macke eventually walk-on to the program.
Macke’s mother, Tricia, a broadcast journalist and basketball coach, currently works at FOX19, the FOX news station affiliate in Cincinnati that broadcasted the coach’s show for Huggins during his time as head coach of the Bearcats. She worked there at the time of his tenure at Cincinnati, according to Huggins.
“I was in Louisville and saw her, and she started telling me about her son,” Huggins said. “She said he averaged 38 (points) and 18 (rebounds). I said ‘what?’. She said he averaged 38 and 18 and nobody would give him a scholarship. I said, ‘he can walk on with us.’ It’s pretty much that simple.”
The tradition and history of West Virginia’s basketball program also made Macke want to choose the walk-on path to Morgantown.
“So many people have been here,” Macke said. “So many great players have played here and I feel like it’d be better to come here and learn after Huggins and all these players.”
Saturday was a game that Macke won’t forget and while he’s not worried about playing in tighter games this season, he hopes to make a bigger impact on the floor during his junior and senior seasons.
What does he hope to accomplish next?
“I’m waiting to make a three, that’s what I wanna do,” he said.
WATCH: Spencer Macke | West Virginia vs. Nicholls Postgame
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