When Mackenzie “Mack” Lankford closed out her senior year of basketball at Weatherford High School in the 2009-10 season, her talents and efforts netted a shelf-full, or perhaps several shelves, of honors.
District, regional, area and county recognition befell Lankford with increasing frequency as she progressed through high school, and in more pursuits than just basketball. The hard work culminated with an offer, and subsequent commitment, to attend and play basketball for Abilene Christian University.
On the day she celebrated her signing to ACU in a gathering at Weatherford High School, Lankford was optimistic about her playing time, even as a freshman, because of the outgoing Lady Wildcats players. And she did indeed get the game time, and so much more.
The guard required very little break-in time to acclimate herself to the speed and elevated level of college basketball, and wasted little time in influencing the success for her new team.
Lankford made an immediate impact on the ACU roster, starting in 26 of the 27 games in the overall schedule and entrenching herself as a member of the starting five for all 14 conference matches. Despite the youth of the Wildcats, Mack helped ACU return to the Lone Star Conference (LSC) postseason tournament
After ACU’s season ended, Lankford was named the LSC South Division’s Freshman of the Year. And the powers-that-be of the selection committee did not stop there, as the ACU freshman was also named to the LSC South’s First Team. Notably, she was the lone freshman named to the First Team.
The numbers only justify the postseason honors Lankford earned. With nearly 20 points per game during the conference schedule, she was the second leading scorer. But offensive acumen was not all the shooting guard possessed, as her tenacious defensive play netted 2.5 steals per contest. Add nearly five rebounds per outing, as a guard, and the contributions are increasingly evident. Additionally, the Weatherford High grad shot better than 40 percent overall, and remained an outside threat, hitting nearly 39 percent from beyond the arc.
Abilene Christian’s coaching staff has reason to feel upbeat about the near future for the Wildcats. Courting a conference playoff team in 2010-11 with just one senior and one junior bodes well for the “veteran” youth who will be returning next year. Leaders will emerge from the sophomore and freshman ranks who will spend considerable time plying their athletic trade for the next few years. With the quick start Lankford has put forth in her inaugural season, there’s little doubt she will be a major component in the team’s success.