‘It doesn’t feel real’: McVeigh soaring for JackJumpers

Shayne Hope |

Jack McVeigh absorbs his stellar game against Perth and a hug from Milton Doyle.
Jack McVeigh absorbs his stellar game against Perth and a hug from Milton Doyle.

Jack McVeigh has to pinch himself sometimes.

Tasmania’s high-energy forward has shot up as one of the NBL’s best players and now has a championship, as well as Australian Boomers representation, on his radar.

McVeigh put rivals on notice with a career-best 27-point haul to steer the JackJumpers to a memorable 100-84 road win over Perth in their Playoffs series decider.

The hot form has set up McVeigh as a potential game-breaker in the Championship Series against Melbourne United from Sunday.

But the 27-year-old is simply enjoying the ride as he seeks to deliver Tasmania a maiden title in their third NBL season.

“Some days it definitely doesn’t feel real,” McVeigh told reporters on Friday.

“After the (Perth) game I went in the room and just sat there by myself for a couple of minutes and was like, ‘Oh, I’m pretty good! How did this happen? What’s going on here?’

“I definitely have moments of thinking I’m still just a kid shooting hoops in my backyard, at the age of seven with my mum coaching me, trying to beat down on my little brother and my big brother beating down on me.

“That’s kind of how it still feels and I’m just trying to have fun and enjoy every single moment of it.”

Of course, the NBA remains the ultimate goal for the Gold Coast-raised McVeigh, who spent three years playing college basketball for Nebraska.

“Every kid can dream but for me it’s just focusing on now and being where my feet are,” he said.

“I wouldn’t change anything on my past journey or where I currently am.

“I’m just having a good time, enjoying the challenges, enjoying it all and that’s where my focus is.”

McVeigh’s game-winning haul against Perth might have caught some by surprise, but not his teammates and coaches.

“He’s a special player,” JackJumpers assistant coach Mark Radford said.

“He doesn’t keep amazing me but he just keeps doing different things that I haven’t seen before.

“When you actually see him at practice he’s doing different things every day.

“He’s always working on his craft and he’s very connected to the group. He has great leadership skills.

“The other night doesn’t surprise us. It might surprise other people but Jack McVeigh doesn’t surprise us, ever.”

McVeigh takes a shot against Perth.
McVeigh anticipates a tough physical battle with Melbourne United in the Championship Series. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Melbourne topped the regular-season ladder and will enjoy home-court advantage in the best-of-five Championship Series.

But the JackJumpers boast a 2-1 record against United this season, including a win at John Cain Arena, and are buoyed by the memory of beating their rivals in a semi-final series two years ago.

“They’ve been the best team all season but we’re feeling good and it’s going to be a tough, physical battle,” McVeigh said.

“They’ve got vets, they’re being led by an Australian NBA great (Matthew Dellavedova), so it’s going to be a fun battle.

“We definitely feel like as long as we focus on us and stick to what we do, we have as good a chance as anyone of bringing this thing home.”