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Mackenzie Mgbako Q&A

Updated: Jun 11, 2022

Credit: @dfritzphotos (IG)

A native of New Jersey, Mackenzie Mgbako has learned from other high-level hoopers within the Tri-state area and is poised to add his name to the list of local greats. Standing at 6’8” with a strong 220-pound frame in conjunction with a versatile inside/outside skill-set, it’s no secret why he’s one of the top ranked prospects in the country and a highly sought after recruit by numerous high major college programs. After missing a large amount of his sophomore season due to both COVID-19 and injuries, Mgbako is eager to get back at it this season and help lead Gill St. Bernard to their first-ever Tournament of Champions victory.

As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Mgbako discusses the basketball culture in the Tri-state area, his experience with the Nigerian National Team this summer, his recruitment update, his off-court interests, creating generational wealth, and much more.

For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Mackenzie Mgbako, from Somerset, New Jersey:

Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?

Mackenzie Mgbako: My name is Mackenzie Mgbako, I’m a 6’8” point-forward and I go to school in Peapack and Gladstone, New Jersey. I go to St. Bernard’s High School. I’m 17 years old, just turned 17 this past November. My mom is Haitian and my dad is Nigerian. I also have three siblings.

PI: Are you the oldest of your siblings?

MM: No, I’m the third. I’ve got an older sister and an older brother, then it’s me and my younger brother.

PI: Any other athletes in the family?

MM: Yeah my younger brother plays basketball, he’s in eighth grade right now. He goes to the same school as me. My dad was a triathlete, as well.

PI: Did you play other sports growing up?

MM: Yeah, I used to do track and field in my middle school days as well as football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, etc. Any sport, you name it and I did it.

PI: When did you primarily start to focus on basketball?

MM: I started focusing on basketball in sixth grade and by seventh grade I decided to explore options. I started playing lacrosse because I was at a new school so I tried to get acclimated and to do stuff to make new friends. I did baseball in my public school in sixth grade and by eighth grade it was strictly just basketball.

PI: What was your introduction to basketball?

MM: I actually started playing around fourth or fifth grade. I started playing because my oldest brother started playing. He didn’t take it as seriously as I did, but I thought it was a nice sport so I wanted to join and do what he was doing.

PI: Do you feel like you were naturally good from the start?

MM: The height was most definitely a natural gift I would say, but I honed my skills to get to the place where I’m at now. My shot, that’s all I used to focus on when I was little and now I’m starting to come into my handle more, as well as my pull-up jump shot, posts moves, etc. You name it, I got it.

PI: Was there a certain moment or time period where you felt like you could be really good at basketball?

MM: Not necessarily, I’ve always had the same mindset which is be the best at whatever I wanted to do. So just going hard and putting in the time has gotten me to the place I’m at, and that’s just a result of hard work. So I wouldn’t say I had it coming for me, but when you work, it should pay off in multitudes of ways and this is the way it’s paid off for me.

PI: Describe the basketball culture in New Jersey.

MM: We have a lot of competitors in New Jersey, both in New York and New Jersey, the Tri-state area. Philly is also involved. Just a lot of hoopers going at it, Roselle Catholic, Bergen Catholic, Gill St. Bernard, Blair Academy, etc. Just a lot of teams and a lot of talent. I think five New Jersey players are top-30 in the country for the class of 2023, so we have a very skilled state to stay the least. Then we have alumni like JR Smith, Coach Dajuan Wagner who is the New Jersey Scholars coach and I look up to him. There’s a lot of other vets like Isaiah Briscoe, who is playing overseas or in the G League, Louis King [Sacramento Kings], Naz Reid [Minnesota Timberwolves], etc. Just a lot of players who have been successful from New Jersey.

PI: How does the style of basketball in New Jersey differ from other east or west coast styles?

MM: To be honest the difference from each school, I know at my school we like to run plays. It’s free-form, but there’s more concepts behind it. I know other schools might have a Princeton offense or just push in transition. It’s a mixture of all of them to say the least. I don’t really know much about west coast hoops, so I couldn’t speak too much on that.

PI: What are your current measurements?

MM: I’m 6’8” with my shoes off…shoes give you like a half-inch to an inch, so with shoes I’m 6’8.5” to 6’9”. I’m not sure about my wingspan, I haven’t had that measured in a while. Shoe size is 15-15.5. Hand size, not sure how to measure that either, and hair is almost going past my eye, but not yet, though [smiles]. I’m 220 pounds right now [also]. They gotta update the websites, they still got me at 180 pounds.

PI: Where do you get your size from?

MM: I’d have to say my grandparents — my grandma is about 6’1”. My dad is about 5’11” and my mom is about 6’0”. So probably my mom’s side if I was to say a family member, like my whole family is tall. All of the boys are tall.