Glue guy. Gritty. Scrappy. Blue collar.
Mac Hagemaster doesn’t mind being described with those sorts of basketball cliches. He owns the stereotype.
“My role is to get the boards. Get the hustle points. Get everyone energized and hustle. Play defense. Get blocks. Sometimes score the ball,” the Homewood-Flossmoor senior said. “That’s been my role my entire life, to be the guy who hustles, rebounds, talks on defense, understands that they don’t need to shoot but can affect the game in other ways.”
One of the players Hagemaster idolized growing up was former Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs forward Dennis Rodman. “The Worm” was known for his prowess on defense and rebounding and is a National Basketball Hall of Famer despite a memorably ugly jump shot.
Rodman was also famous for his antics outside of basketball.
“He’s that energy guy. It’s not the off-the-court stuff, more like the diving for everything, getting all those loose balls, that kind of thing,” Hagemaster said.
Rodman is a good prototype for Hagemaster.
The Vikings don’t need a scorer. Guys like Bryce Heard, Gianni Cobb and Carson Brownfield, among others, do plenty of that. At 6-foot-8, Hagemaster is asked to rebound and be a presence in the paint on both sides of the floor.
It’s worked out well for H-F, as the Vikings were 17-1 on Jan. 18.
“Everyone knows their role. You have guys on the bench whose primary role is just to play defense or just to shoot the ball. Other guys are here to score or lead the team,” Hagemaster said.
Hagemaster came to H-F this year from Lincoln-Way East. His family moved into the school district and reached out to coach Jamere Dismukes, who thought he would complement the Vikings roster well.
“You don’t find a kid like that too often. He cares about other people more than he cares about himself. Hard worker, high academic kid,” Dismukes said. “Mac is every coach’s, every teacher’s, every parent’s dream.”
Hagemaster will play for Division II Lewis University next winter. He chose the Flyers over Air Force and Eastern Illinois, among others.
“I went on my visit there and they were just like ‘We could tell that you love this game and want to play in college,’” Hagemaster said. “They need people like me who want to get on the ground and play defense.”
Dismukes said it wasn’t difficult to convince Hagemaster to be that guy, which is a rare thing in a teenage player. His willingness to do it is bearing fruit.
“That’s just who Mac is,” Dismuke said. “He’s always been the kid who does the dirty work, rebounds, blocks shots, runs hard. He’s one of our captains and I think he’s always been that kid so his role this year came pretty naturally, especially because he knows that he’s playing with a lot of other really good scorers. In order for us to win, we need him to do exactly what he’s doing.”
The whole team has gelled over the last month or so, Hagemaster said. The only loss came to Gonzaga College High School from Washington D.C. in the Chicago Elite Classic. It was a wakeup call for the Vikings, Hagemaster said.
Since then, they’ve been perfect in the win/loss columns, including multiple victories over ranked opponents.
“We definitely needed (the loss to Gonzaga). It wasn’t a moral victory but it was an eye-opener,” Hagemaster said. “We needed to get stuff done and fast if we wanted to go to state.”
As good as H-F is playing, Dismukes wouldn’t be a coach if he admitted he was content. He thinks his team still needs to guard a little better. It still needs to share the ball a little more, too.
If they do those things, Dismukes believes the Vikings can bring some hardware back to Homewood-Flossmoor in March.
“I feel like the state championship game is our acceptable ending,” Hagemaster said. “Anything below the state championship, I don’t know if that’s enough.”