By: Cole Shelton
Bruce Massey Jr. is staying with the Cape Breton Highlanders.
Massey, who has been the Highlanders top player to date, was expected to leave the team to go overseas to Lebanon. However, in the end, Massey has decided he will stay with Cape Breton for the rest of the season.
"It is a long story. Long story short, there were a couple things in the contract that my agent and myself didn't agree with," Massey said. "When I announced that it was my last game it truly was going to be my last game, it was done and in the works. We were just waiting on the flights to come through and something just came up with the contract and it was a little shady. It wasn't feeling right so I thought it was best to remain with the team. Talking to the coach and my teammates just seeing what we have here, everything is going well. There is a lot of buzz about me being MVP this season so it was kind of tough to leave."
As Massey mentioned, there is talk of him being the MVP this season. So far, Massey is averaging 22.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 59 assists while shooting 44.8% from the field and 43.8% from three. The success has helped lead the Highlanders to an 11-6 record which is tied for second best in the league. That along with his play has put him right into the centre of the MVP conversation.
"It is really a blessing," he said. "I could have never seen me be in the MVP talk for a professional league or being the frontrunner or wherever you want to put me. Just having the chance to win MVP of a pro league is a blessing. I don't take it for granted and that is why it is hard to leave right now."
Ultimately, for Massey, all the work he has put in over the last several years are finally showing. In the off-season, Massey spent a majority of his time shooting the three ball and trying to knock down shots from beyond the arc more consistently. Now, he is doing that this season.
"Last year I shot the mid-range very well but I wasn't shooting the three like I wanted to. This summer I worked on catch and shoot threes, shooting off the dribble, working off screens, I just worked on it all," Massey explained. "The moment I left here I went to Mexico and worked on it in Mexico. I just wanted to change my percentage, just being able to knock down shots opened my game even more."
Now, with Massey playing well, along with the rest of the team, the Highlanders are a real threat in the league. A big reason why is because of the head coach Bernardo Fitz-Gonzalez. He has installed a defensive first mentality which has resulted in better play for Cape Breton, something Massey has noticed.
"It's structured. We are being held accountable," he said. "Last year there wasn't a lot of accountability. Coach Bernardo, if you aren't playing defence you aren't going to play. He is big on defence. We have an offence this year where the ball moves, players move around, last year we didn't have that. We are talented and we have a good offensive and defensive system."
With the structure in place and Massey playing at an MVP-calibre level, the Highlanders look like a team to beat in the NBLC. Come playoff time, Massey can't wait to make a deep playoff run and end it with bringing home a championship back to Cape Breton.
"We really think we are a threat," Massey said. "We think we can win against anybody. We have to keep this momentum going and keep getting better every day. We feel like we have a chance to make noise in the playoffs. We have to get better but right now we feel like we have a good chance."