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Interview: Natasha Mack chats about her hoops journey, from Texas to Montenegro to Turkey

Former Oklahoma State standout and WNBA player Natasha Mack discusses her basketball journey, which has taken her from small-town Texas to Montenegro and Turkey.

Natasha Mack tries to block France’s Alexia Chartereau while representing Montenegro during EuroBasket 2023.
Photo by JURE MAKOVEC/AFP via Getty Images

Natasha Mack, the 2021 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year at Oklahoma State who was the 16th pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft, currently plays in Turkey for Botasspor Adana. At 3-7, the team has not gotten of to a good start to the season in the Turkish Women’s Basketball League. In contrast, the Montenegro National Team, which she plays for, sits atop Group H in EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers with two wins and no losses, despite Mack missing both games. We were able to talk to Tasha about her about her past, present and future.

You’re known as one of the best shot blockers in the game. What’s your secret? Parts of the equation must be range—a 6-foot-11 wingspan is just crazy—speed and instinct.

I do have a really long wingspan. I also like playing defense. It’s all about the distance I am from when the shot goes up and how a person shoots the ball. Granted, I’m not doing math out there. I just try to time it perfectly or alter the way somebody shoots the ball.

You had the word “humble” tatted on your bicep, but covered it up.

I did have the tattoo on me, but I recently covered it up because I didn’t like how it fitted on my arm. I will be getting it tattooed back on me. It’s a remainder from my grandma. She always told me no matter where life takes me, what it gives me or takes away, to just remain humble.

There’s a one-year gap in your resume between high school and college. It was a time when you quit basketball and got into something different. Can you tell us again the unique story of how you returned to the sport and what you did during that time?

Ahh, I love telling this story! So I quit basketball because of an old relationship and toxic environment. So I got into cutting chicken wings at a chicken factory. Randy McKelvey, who was assistant coach at Angelina College at the time, approached me with the opportunity to get back into basketball. At first I turned it down because I really believed I was done playing and that I lost love for the game. During the next few days I was thinking like, “Damn, do I really want to work here for forever and miss an opportunity?” I hit him up a few days later and [he] came to my job to sign the paperwork to get back into it. He is definitely an angel in disguise and one of my many reasons for my getting back into basketball.

So the love has been back, safe and it’s not going anywhere?

Yes, the love is back and never leaving, even when I retire from playing.

How does a girl from small-town Lufkin, Texas, end up playing for Montenegro?

The journey was beautiful! The people there really root for their country despite it not being the biggest. The love that the people share with me and the way they embraced me is amazing. From the beginning it’s been nothing but love. My Montenegrin nickname is “Dragice” [Darling].

And how did you get to play for the country?

I had played against the head coach at the time and I guess she liked how I played. My agent told me about Montenegro wanting me to play for them and after talking to my support system, I decided to do it.

What are your goals for this season when it comes to your club team? Four of five players in Botasspor’s starting lineup are American-born, yet you guys managed to win just three out of the first 10 games in the Turkish league. What went wrong and is there still a chance to turn the season around?

My goals are always simple: To give and do everything I can in my power to help my team win and get better. The season hasn’t started off great, but we are looking to turn it around. This team, we have gone through some changes and setbacks but we’re going to get it together. I believe there’s always a chance until the last game of the season is over.

Minnesota Lynx v Los Angeles Sparks
Drafted in 2021, Natasha Mack has played in five WNBA games.
Photo by Carrie Giordano/NBAE via Getty Images

Your five games played in the WNBA in remain a small sample size of what you’re capable of on the court. Is the league still an option for you?

The WNBA is very much an option for me, but I will not just close my limits and my opportunities to reach them. The world is big and full of basketball and experience. I am and definitely will always be open to the WNBA.

A special thank you to Maxym Lejeune of LBM Management for arranging the interview.