For the second consecutive June, Butler basketball fans have had a vested interest in following the NBA Draft. The Bulldog Nation had to watch a lot longer during Thursday’s draft than they did a year ago, but in the end, they got what they wanted and saw another Butler player selected.
Shelvin Mack was selected with the 34th pick by the Washington Wizards.
“I’m excited and happy for Shelvin,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said in a release.
A year ago, Butler forward Gordon Hayward was chosen with the ninth pick by the Utah Jazz.
Mack had to wait until four picks into the second round before he knew where his next athletic opportunity would be.
“Like we did with Gordon last year, you take great pride in a guy that came to Butler,” Stevens said. “(Shelvin) had a great career and is better off for his experience here. And Butler certainly benefited from his time here.”
Mack’s future is nowhere near as solidified as Hayward’s was when he was picked.
Having not been selected in the first round, Mack doesn’t enjoy the security of getting a guaranteed contract. He’ll have to earn his way into the league. But when he made his decision last month to follow this career path, he was prepared.
“I understand the pros and cons of everything,” Mack said at the time. “If I have to go through the worst-case scenario, I think that I’ll be all right.”
Mack said the “worst-case scenario” involved not being chosen at all and having to go overseas to play professionally. Though he avoided that situation by being drafted, securing a roster spot with the Wizards has essentially the same level of difficulty as if he hadn’t been drafted.
“I’m mentally prepared if that happens,” Mack said of playing in Europe. “I hope it doesn’t happen. I’m going to work hard and let everything else take care of itself.”
In addition to not having a guaranteed contract, there is the likelihood of the NBA owners locking out the players beginning July 1 in a labor dispute. Many reports have indicated it’s possible there will not be a 2011-12 NBA season due to the labor unrest.
Mack began to ponder his future as he began to play better in the later stages of his junior season this year.
The 6-foot-3 guard was the second-leading scorer (16 points per game) for the 28-10 Bulldogs. His play was at its peak during the Bulldogs’ second straight run to the NCAA national championship game.
Mack increased his scoring to more than 20 points per game during the tournament and was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Southeast Regional. He was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the Final Four for a second straight April.
“At the end of the day,” Stevens said, “we feel very good about Shelvin moving forward. He won’t have any bigger fans than us.”
By Tom Davis
The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.