Playing around the world with combo guard and accounting junior
by Matt Jardin |
Around the World isn't just the name of a popular basketball game, but also the perfect way to describe how far accounting junior and combo guard for the Seawolves men's basketball team Jack Macdonald has traveled to play the sport.
To say he came to Alaska from the opposite corner of the map would not be hyperbole. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Macdonald grew up in an athletic family playing enough sports to fill an ESPN programming schedule. But the two sports he played longest - and the ones he came back to most often - were basketball and Australian Rules football, which is the country's most popular game and most easily described as a cross between American football and rugby. According to Macdonald, "You just have to watch it to get a feel for it."
When the time came to hone in on a single sport to focus on after high school, Macdonald chose basketball, believing he was more skilled on the court than he was at "Aussie Rules." College basketball is also much more popular outside of Australia, thus providing the clearest pathway to the U.S., which was an exciting prospect for Macdonald.
Based on a referral from his high school basketball coach - former NBA player Chris Anstey - Macdonald got an offer to play at Ohlone College in San Francisco right out of high school.
"My plan was to do one year there and get recruited out," describes Macdonald. That year I was trying to put my name out there and getting on people's radar. I was talking to different schools and just wanted to find the right fit. UAA was one of them and just everything about the program really stuck with me. It was something I wanted to be a part of."
Macdonald came to play for the Seawolves beginning his sophomore year, citing the athletic program's track record and the opportunity to play in the Alaska Airlines Center as huge draws. He also credits the positive word of mouth he received from other Australian athletes who attended UAA, which helped ease his drastic transition, not just from Melbourne to Anchorage, but from San Francisco to Anchorage as well.
"It was a pretty big culture shock, not ever really being in this kind of climate before and being in a smaller city a long way away from everything. I'm used to big cities and lots of vehicles and the beach. It was definitely different, but something I got used to," recalls Macdonald.
In lieu of the beach, Macdonald spent his first year as a Seawolf by jumping right into the deep end of Alaska basketball. In 2017, he played in the very last Great Alaska Shootout tournament, which until then had been a 40-year annual tradition.
Since then, it appears that Macdonald has grown comfortable living on the other side of the world if his successes are any indication. In February 2019, he was named one of three UAA players among a total of 29 student-athletes to make it on the 2018-19 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men's Basketball All-Academic Team. Later that same month, he received a far bigger honor, being voted to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 8 Men's Basketball Team, recognizing Macdonald as one of the top six student-athletes among the 36 programs in the NCAA Division II West Region.
In addition to sports, Macdonald describes business as another one of his earliest interests, informing his decision to major in accounting. Looking ahead to his return flight home in 2020, he hopes to one day coalesce his background in athletics and his education in accounting to start a health and fitness business.
"They're both things that I'm passionate about and it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently - kind of just reflecting on where I see myself and what I want to be doing," says Macdonald.
Written by Matt Jardin, UAA Office of University Advancement