Jack MacAulay is ready to get back on the floor and compete.
The 20-year-old Charlottetown native sat out last season after transferring from Cape Breton University to UPEI. He will be eligible to pull on the Panthers jersey when the 2018-19 basketball season tips off this fall.
“It will definitely be kind of surreal, just growing up watching UPEI since I was a little kid,” MacAulay said. “It will be pretty cool for sure.”
The six-foot-two guard was a big part of the Charlottetown Rural Raiders three straight Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association senior AAA basketball titles from 2013-2015. He then committed to the Capers where he would get a chance to play for Matt Skinn, who was a teammate of MacAulay’s head coach at Rural, Ryan Keliher, on Capers teams a decade earlier.
The Capers went 10-10 in MacAulay’s rookie season and then Skinn left the program. MacAulay scored 10 points per game in his sophomore season when the Capers went winless. He decided to leave the university after the season and reached out to new Panthers bench boss Darrell Glenn.
MacAulay redshirted with UPEI last season as players must sit out a season when transferring universities. It meant practising with the Panthers all season, but not playing a game.
“It wasn't that bad because I was still (competing) every day. I was practising with the team,” MacAulay said, but “I’m very excited for this coming year.”
The Panthers now have a player with a full year of knowledge of the team’s systems and players who is ready to hit the floor running.
“We’re not only getting a really good player and a local player, but we’re also getting somebody who knows our stuff. There’s really not going to be any learning curve,” Glenn said. “I see him coming in and being an impact player right away. In fact, we need him to be.”
The Panthers are looking to improve on last season’s 3-17 record when they finished ahead of the Capers (2-18), but missed the playoffs in the eight-team conference.
“Believe, play hard and practise hard and good things will come,” MacAulay said.
Glenn credited MacAulay for his professionalism, discipline and hard work during the past year.
“It’s difficult to come every single day and bust your butt and do all the things that everybody else is doing and never have the opportunity to dress,” he said. “That’s a hard thing to do.”
MacAulay has always been known for his outside shooting ability, but he’s also has handled the ball for teams in the past. He said he is willing to fill whatever role his new coach has for him.
Glenn said his shooting will help a squad that struggled from the outside last season (29.7 per cent), but his intangibles may be more important.
“His ability to compete is really the kind of culture we want to set for the team and the program,” he said.
“There were a number of times I looked at him during games and you could just see he was dying to get into the game and make a contribution,” Glenn added. “He brings things to the table that this program desperately needs.”
The Panthers are in the midst of discussions with other players as it looks to build its roster for the coming season.
Need to know
Who – A 20-year-old Charlottetown resident who will play basketball for the UPEI Panthers next season.
Size, position – A six-foot-two guard.
Studying – Business.
Did you know? MacAulay was part of the Atlantic University Sport all-rookie team in 2015-16 as a member of the Cape Breton Capers. The squad included Panthers point guard Amin Suleman.
Familiar face – MacAulay gets a chance to reunite with a familiar face on the Panthers. He and Logan MacDonald were key parts of the Charlottetown Rural Raiders teams that won three straight high school championships. They were also key members of Team P.E.I. at the 2013 Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Que., and had been teammates since they became teenagers until they started university.
Key stat – The Panthers ranked second last in the conference in three-point shooting percentage last season at 29.7. MacAulay connected on 36.9 and 36.7 per cent of his shots from beyond the arc in his first two seasons in the conference.
Season GP Pts./G Reb./G Assists/G
2015-16 18 8 1.7 1.1
2016-17 20 10.2 2.8 2
MacAulay said: “I’m excited to officially join the Panther family. . . We have a lot of work to do, and I can’t wait to get going.”