SKY’S THE LIMIT, WNBA’s Chicago Sky Drafts Former AC Standout Mack

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By now, Natasha Mack’s story of perseverance has become nearly legendary, with national news outlets sharing the tale of a young lady who returned to the game of basketball after walking away for a year and working in a chicken processing plant. Some of those outlets also shared how Mack as a third grader wrote in a class assignment that her dream was to one day play professional basketball.

            On Thursday, the outlets helped spread a different story: Mack, the former Lufkin High School and Angelina College standout, was the 16th overall pick in the WNBA draft. She will now pack her stories and talents and head to Chicago to play for the Sky. 

            With family and friends holding a private watch party inside Angelina College’s Shands Gymnasium – and on the same floor where Mack reignited her passion for the game – Mack waited and watched with the crowd as the draft unfolded on a large screen before them. Although early mock drafts had Mack listed among other first-round picks, the Sky waited until the second round to call Mack’s name. 

            No biggie. It won’t be the first time Mack has had to prove her value. 

            “I need to prove I should have been taken in the first round,” Mack said during her ESPN interview. “It’s as simple as that. That’s what I’m here to do.”

            After having AC coaches Byron Coleman and Randy McKelvey talk her into giving the game another shot, Mack proceeded to shatter numerous records during her two years at AC, including the records for points in a season (791), career points (1,471), rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage. She was a four-time JUCO National Player of the Week, and was the first AC athlete to earn both 1st Team All-American status and the National Player of the Year award. 

            In her sophomore campaign, Mack led the Lady Roadrunners in 2018-2019 to the program’s first-ever appearance at the national tournament after AC won the Region XIV conference tournament. The team spent most of the year ranked in the top 20 nationally and established a record for wins in a season with 29. 

            At her next stop at Oklahoma State University, Mack led the nation in blocks in 2021 with 112 for the season, averaging a nation’s best 4.0 blocks per game. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark at OSU and became just the second-ever Cowgirl to notch a triple-double in a game. Her efforts led to the coveted Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

            Mack and her family won’t have long to celebrate. She reports to the team’s training bubble within the next week, and the Sky tips off its regular season on May 15 with a trip to face the Washington Mystics. 

            It sounds like a lot of traveling, but then again, Mack has shown she can handle just about any sort of journey. 

            “I’m glad a team wanted me and believed in me,” Mack said while adjusting her new Sky cap. “It’s time for me to go to work now.”

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Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.