WHETHER the influence is good, bad or indifferent there is no doubt some athletes have an effect on the next generation of sports stars. And the Bundaberg Bulls veteran Willie Shackleford proves the point perfectly.

For six Queensland Basketball League (QBL) seasons Shackleford has been doing what imports are paid to do - score points and pull down rebounds - but there have been many other things he has been doing that will ensure his legacy at WIN Stadium lasts for longer than his playing career.

What makes Shack special is he is a real person who cares about the future of his sport.

I have a few memories of Shack but something that will stick will me is what I saw one night at the shops.

Hearing Shack's distinctive voice behind me, I turned around and saw him giving high fives to a couple of primary school kids who were thrilled to have the attention of the Bulls' star player.

The smiles were still on the kids' faces as they were guided off by mum and I could only think of what it felt like for them. A few hours earlier they could have been at a school coaching clinic and then to have Shack recognise them would have been a real thrill.

I am confident to say when the talk of what sport to play next came up at home I would be surprised if it wasn't basketball.

Another example is the way Shack speaks of the juniors in the Bulls roster.

During the 2014 season after scoring a triple-double (22 points, 24 rebounds, 10 assists) in a 102-66 win over Gold Coast, where he had every right to enjoy the spotlight, Shack was quick to say being on court with the club's juniors was the highlight.

"I love playing with the juniors. I've been here five years and some of these boys weren't even playing basketball when I arrived," he said in the dressing room on the cool August night.

"For me it's a bit emotional and it makes me feel old, and at the same time it's always good to get out there because that's the heart of Bundy, the young guys.

"It's always a passion for me to be out there playing with some kids that I practically raise and coach."

His influence on the likes of Anthony and Daniel Gardner, Luke Iacobucci and Cam Duncan could not be measured because combining a sport the boys love with Shack's technical knowledge, his own passion for basketball and his desire to see them grow off court as well ensures he will be remembered into the future.

No one knows for certain if Shack will win a QBL title as a player, but it's fairly safe to say if he retires before the Bulls claim a championship there will be some players who would have been impacted by him on the way to the top of Queensland basketball.

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