Having A Mecca Time

Participating in UW elite camp this Monday and Tuesday and seeing his stock rise on the AAU circuit with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, life is pretty good right now for 2013 forward Austin Mecca.

MADISON - If your name is Austin Mecca, life doesn't get much better.

A first-team all-conference selection after leading his conference in rebounding, Mecca has spent the majority of the summer living, breathing and sleeping basketball, part of life when one plays on one of the Midwest's best AAU teams – the Wisconsin Playground Warriors.

"It's awesome right now," Mecca told Badger Nation. "I never thought when I was in fifth grade that this would be happening. It's a dream come true."

Playing against elite competition across the country on the AAU circuit, the Warriors just keep winning, with Mecca being a big piece of that success and a credit to the development he has received.

In grade school, Mecca was strictly a wing player, never being taught the proper technique on how to use his body to his advantage in the post. Thanks to the tutelage he's received at Manitowoc Lincoln and with the Warriors, Mecca has started to turn into a forward that can mix it up in the post.

"I've gotten better with my feet and able to get to the basket and find my guy," Mecca said. "It makes me feel more confident."

The results are evident in the last two seasons. For his high school team, Mecca has been able to be more physical in the post, and averaged 14.7 points per game as a freshman. On the AAU circuit, Mecca has won over 60 games with the 16U and the 15U squads compared to less than 15 combined losses.

"The competition is way different than high school," said Mecca of the AAU circuit. "Playing with all these great players like (La Crosse Aquinas') Bronson Koenig and (Pulaski's) Cody Wichmann, it's good to get them shots. It's fun playing with them. We get along on and off the court. When I have a bad game, they take some of the pressure off my shoulders."

Mecca hasn't had many bad games for the Playground Warriors. At the Bob Gibbons Tournament in Chapel Hill (N.C.) over Memorial Day, Mecca and Koenig were co-MVPs after leading the 15U team to the team championship in their division.

"I feel honored in getting that and being able to play at Carolina, it's an once-in-a-lifetime thing," Mecca said. "All I cared about it winning. All I want to do is win."

Mecca will certainly get the chance at the college level to win basketball games, already picking up a pair of scholarship offers courtesy of Tod Kowalczyk and his old coaching job at Green Bay and his new coaching job at Toledo.

"Coach K called me a couple of weeks after he left for Toledo and told me he was still interested in me," Mecca said. "I've gotten a couple letters from Indiana, South Dakota State and North Dakota State. I liked getting that first offer, knowing that I can go to college for free and get a great education. I feel honored that Coach K wants me to be a part of his team."

One team that has been paying close attention to Mecca is Wisconsin, a main reason he was invited early to the elite camp, which runs Monday through today.

"It's a really good relationship with Coach Gard," Mecca said. "He's a really nice guy. I have talked to Bo a lot. He's really cool and I like talking to him. I'm real anxious to participate in the camp to show the coaches what I can do to help Wisconsin do really good."

When asked what receiving a Wisconsin scholarship down the road would mean to him and his family, Mecca didn't mince his words.

"That would be awesome," said Mecca, admitting a UW scholarship would be the ultimate goal. "I have wanted to play for the Badgers since I was probably in fourth grade. I am going to look at different schools, but Wisconsin is one of my top choices."

He also didn't hesitate when asked about his future, a good indicator that Mecca has the intangibles necessary to be the leader coaches are hoping for.

"I'm going to be bringing a lot of experience and leadership to my (high school) team," Mecca said. "I am going to be help teammates and give them advice when they are going through tough times. I am really excited to develop that part of my game, too."

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