Class of 2010 alumnus leaves Alaska-Anchorage program
En route to Denver to join former Wilsonville teammate Kevin Marshall and the Regis mens basketball program, Mike MacKelvie answers his phone. He starts discussing his stint in the junior college ranks, his year at Alaska-Anchorage and his decision to transfer with just one season of eligibility remaining.
He marvels at the improbability of it all.
It definitely wouldnt have happened if Kevin werent there, he said.
Winter of discontent
In Anchorage, Alaska, the average temperature in December is 24 degrees Fahrenheit and thats the average high. The low hovers at a frosty 13 degrees. The skies dump some 17 inches of snow in 31 days. The sun peaks out for just 52 of the months 744 hours.
The frigid weather conditions only made it harder for MacKelvie to warm up to the place.
The winter came on, and it was tough to live there, he said. Its negative-10 or -15 degrees at times. And youre not seeing much sunlight.
But there were factors aside from the climate that led the Wilsonville High School alumnus to transfer out of the Alaska-Anchorage mens basketball program.
In his first and only season with the Seawolves, who compete in Division II as a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound wing played in 26 of 27 games but started just six times and averaged only 14.4 minutes per game.
It just didnt go as smoothly as I had hoped, he said. It was fun playing for a big school and having games on TV, but it just wasnt the place for me.
It certainly wasnt the transition MacKelvie had in mind after two years at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Ariz., where he averaged 10.6 points per game while shooting 47.6-percent from the field.
As a sophomore, MacKelvie led the Gila Monsters to a 21-10 overall record and a third-place mark in league play.
Michael is super-athletic, a quick-twitch guy who can explode by defenders, slash to the bucket, and finish at the rim in a variety of ways, Wildcats coach Chris Roche said. Hes an energetic, bouncy, relentless attack type of player. He also rebounds and draws fouls exceptionally well.
Meanwhile, Marshall was making an immediate impact at Regis.
He graduated from Wilsonville in 2012 and didnt let inexperience keep him from becoming one of the best players in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, earning third-team all-league honors as a freshman.
Marshall closed the season with 21-consecutive starts at point guard and finished the year as the Rangers second-leading scorer with 11.4 points per game. He also logged 87 assists, the most by a Regis freshman since the 1981-82 season.
Kevin is a tremendous point guard, a great ball-handler, a guy who defends exceptionally well, and a scorer, too, Wildcats coach Chris Roche said. He has improved every year I have known him in significant ways, and that is still happening today. Physically, hes impressive for a 6-foot kid, and hes very athletic. Kevin can make bundles of shots, inside and out.
Marshall has also kept himself busy in the classroom. He is majoring in business administration while working towards a minor in exercise science, and he plans to pursue a career in physical therapy.
Overall, his experiences on and off the hardwood have been satisfying.
Everythings going great so far, he said. Ive really enjoyed it, and I love Colorado.
Forging a bond
The bond between Marshall and MacKelvie blossomed during their days at Wilsonville, where they overlapped for two years on the boys basketball team.
In 2008-09 and 2009-10, the first two seasons of Marshalls prep career and the last two of MacKelvies, the Wildcats were phenomenal. The program claimed back-to-back Northwest Oregon Conference titles, earned third- and fourth-place finishes at the Class 5A state championships and won 26 games each year.
Marshall and MacKelvie created lasting memories on the court. They played together in Wilsonvilles heartbreaking loss to eventual state champion Portland-Jefferson in a 2010 quarterfinal. They helped the Wildcats hold Bend-Summit to 19 points in a victory in the fourth-place game that year.
In an epic road game against rival Sherwood earlier that season, MacKelvie found Marshall for a layup with just seconds left to seal Wilsonvilles thrilling 50-49 triumph.
MacKelvie was named the NWOC player of the year and garnered first-team all-state honors as a senior in 2010. Marshall added both accolades to his resume as a senior two years later.
They always got along really well, Roche said of his two former players. We have been blessed our kids have been both talented and unselfish, and they have been willing to focus on team rather than individual success. When you are talking about kids who were as talented as Michael and Kevin, that is really important to team chemistry and, ultimately, success.
I think they also enjoyed each other because both could really play, and they shared a love for the game of basketball. Then, of course, they went through the wars together, and they won, won, won together. I think all of those things in Wildcat basketball connected them. They are great kids, and as a coach it probably is not unlike a parent with multiple kids you love them all, and you really hope they appreciate and love one another. When they do get along and become great friends, it is very rewarding. I see that in this situation with Michael and Kevin.
'Out of the blue'
The connection between MacKelvie and Marshall didnt fizzle after high school.
Even when MacKelvie graduated and left for Eastern Arizona, he and Marshall stayed in touch. When Marshall wrapped up his career at Wilsonville and settled in at Regis, the two remained in contact.
And that was still the case when MacKelvie started thinking about leaving Alaska-Anchorage this past season.
I heard he was thinking about transferring, and I knew wed have a few open spots at the wing position, Marshall said. So I talked to my coaches about him, and they knew him from when he played at junior college. It went from there, I guess.
It wasnt as simple as that, however.
After MacKelvie signaled that he wouldnt be returning to UAA, he received offers from a few Division II programs. But the finance student didnt make any commitments because he also wanted to find a school that satisfied his academic standards.
Making matters more difficult, MacKelvie said, was that many of the teams with which he was in contact were hesitant or unwilling to bring a transferring senior on board.
MacKelvie started looking into schools in Division III as well as in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, including Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif.
I really thought Id end up at (Westmont), but I called back a week after getting in touch with them and they said, Well, were not gonna be able to do it this year, MacKelvie said. I was like, Well, shoot. Thats another school I definitely wouldve gone to.
But the fact that he couldnt play at Westmont turned out to be a blessing in disguise, MacKelvie said. Indeed, on his way to visit Whitworth, he received a call from longtime Regis coach Lonnie Porter.
I had already spoken to an assistant, Steve Ledesma, and he sounded optimistic, but I didnt think much of it, MacKelvie said. I still didnt think Id be heading there. But they ended up having a scholarship left, and Kevin had put in a good word for me. He was their go-to guy as a freshman, and he had a great year, so that helped my cause. I dont think it wouldve been possible if he wasnt there.
Still, the proposal wasnt official until a few weeks before the start of summer, when MacKelvie received a call while at home. It came as a surprise.
I was upstairs and ran down to my dad and said, Regis just offered me, he said. It was kind of out of the blue, but I was super excited. Regis is a good school, and it really fit my criteria. I can play right away. Its pretty sweet.
Reunion at Regis
Regis has not been known as a basketball powerhouse in recent years.
It hasnt posted double-digit wins since 2007-08. It hasnt earned a winning record since 2003-04. And it hasnt reached the 10-win benchmark in conference play since 1998-99.
But the Rangers showed signs of progress last season. They won nine games their most in five seasons and logged eight victories against league opponents, equaling their number of RMAC wins in the previous three seasons combined.
Regis is a terrific school, and they are working to rebuild their hoops program right now, Roche said. In Kevin and Michael, they have two winners. At some point, if they either add more team-focused winners or have enough guys determined that way, things could tip on the scoreboard for them more often. Last year was a step in the right direction, and I think Kevin was a big part of that. Assuming they stay healthy, and that their newcomers fit well with Michael and Kevin, I think they could have a special season this year. It is a great challenge, and I know I will be rooting for them.
Marshall is certainly looking forward to the 2013-14 campaign not just because he has a year of collegiate experience, and not just because the Rangers lost just three players from last seasons roster.
We should be pretty strong this year, he said. Itll be a lot of fun, especially with this being (MacKelvies) last year, to play with a former high school teammate once again.
As for MacKelvie, who will be attending his third school in four years, hes optimistic about living in Denver and earning his degree at the 14,000-student Jesuit school.
Theres definitely a transition period, but I think itll be pretty easy easier than Alaska, he said. I know Kevin, and I know Ill like the area. Im just excited about the opportunity.
Will they be successful as teammates in the collegiate ranks? Do they complement each other on the court?
They fit together very well, Roche said. If you put those two with a deadly 3-point shooter with length and a couple of big bodies to board and defend the paint, maybe one of whom could be a presence on the block, you would have quite a squad.
They give a team a couple of guys who know each other well, who can score in a variety of ways, who like each other and who know how to win. The last point is not something to take lightly they dont like losing, and they will fight to win and compete against anybody.