Staying strong: Ursuline grad Hughes training in Youngstown, waiting for next pro opportunity

Sports

Mark Hughes started as a rookie for the Worcester Wolves in the British Basketball League this past year but is now a free agent

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ursuline grad Mark Hughes made his professional basketball dream a reality this past year and is now waiting for the next chapter of his career to unfold.

Last summer, Hughes signed a one-year contract with the Worcester Wolves, where he played in the British Basketball League. The pandemic cut his rookie season short, so he’s back home and now a free agent.

Hughes has always been competitive. After all, he’s the third-youngest of eight siblings.

“Coming from just how competitive everyone is, it was always something to deal with in the house,” joked Hughes. “Everyone is trying to win so that definitely nurtured my competitive edge.”

A 2015 Ursuline grad, Hughes was an All State player for the Irish turned All Conference performer at Wright State. Last summer, he made his pro dream a reality with the Wolves.

“Once I found my groove at each level I was playing, things started to go well for me,” Hughes said. “I just had to settle in and play basketball.”

Hughes started as a rookie for the Wolves, helping his team win a British Basketball League Cup Trophy back in January. The pandemic ultimately ended their season in March. After returning home to Warren and taking a month or so off, Hughes is back in the gym, working with local trainers such as Anthony Pugh.

“We got all the downtime in the world right now, so I feel like how can you take care of your body right now…This is the best time to do it,” Hughes said. “You can get in the gym by yourself and work on the things that you need to improve on from last year. Staying strong is something that’s always going to be key for a professional basketball player just because of the level you’re playing at.”

Basketball has taken Hughes around the world. He also got to play in China last summer. His goal is to play at the highest level possible, whether that takes him back to the BBL or elsewhere. Last year, he graduated from Wright State with an Exercise Science degree and hopes to become a strength and conditioning coach after his playing days are over.

“I want to play basketball for as long as I can, but at the same time, I know the ball stops bouncing eventually,” Hughes said. “Life is full of setbacks and nothing is ever going to go perfect but I feel like as long as you keep your head down and you’re working hard, then things will always work out for you.

“I take a lot of pride in being from Youngstown, so just to be someone who’s doing something positive coming out of this city, it means a lot to me.”

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