Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for November 30, 2006

From the Southern Illinoisan...

Mackins makes good on promise

by scott mees, the southern

Cairo forward Russell Mackins, a 6-foot-7 senior, told friends years ago he would finish his prep basketball career with the Pilots.

After playing for Trigg County (Ky.) High School for the past two years, he kept his word and moved back to Cairo.

"It was actually a decision I made in my younger childhood," Mackins said. "We said, no matter what, we'd always come back our senior year no matter where we were at."

Mackins moved from Cairo following his freshman year. The fact that Cairo struggled in the interim didn't sit well with him. He wanted to make a difference on the court and be around his family.

"I really wanted to finish up in Cairo," Mackins said. "I wanted to come back and graduate here and be around my friends at the same time."

The Pilots finished 9-20 last season. The addition of Mackins and some good underclassmen should help the squad improve on that mark.

"I just wanted people to know that Cairo has a good basketball team," Mackins said. "I want to leave everything I've learned with the freshmen and sophomores so they can pass it on when they graduate."

Mackins constantly soaks in basketball knowledge throughout the year. He's a student of the game who attends camps and plays AAU hoops during the summer.

"Everything they told me at summer camps and AAU ball stuck in my head," Mackins said. "True athletes know basketball never stops."

Several major universities, including Texas, Georgia and Florida, have been recruiting Mackins since his freshman year at Cairo.

"His knowledge of the game is just unreal," said Cairo boys basketball coach Dion Real. "Every college coach I've talked to said the best thing about him is his knowledge of basketball."

Although Mackins can score and rebound with anyone, he also takes a lot of pride in passing the ball.

"I think I'm one of the only big men that likes assists more than scoring," Mackins said. "I see opportunities all the time. The defense is always drawn to me a little more than other players. I just give them my pump fake and someone's always open for an easy bucket."

The senior is almost fully recovered from a knee injury (torn ACL) he suffered last season. He averaged 14 points and 15 rebounds per game at Trigg County.

The Pilots are currently playing in the Du Quoin Tip-Off Classic and take the court Friday night at 6:30 against Du Quoin.