Shelvin Mack grew accustomed to winning at Butler, where over the past two seasons he had been a primary reason for the Bulldogs advancing to consecutive NCAA championship games. This past season, the journey began with a pair of thrillers at Verizon Center in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
This morning, Mack made his first appearance at the Washington Wizards’ arena since those games in mid-March, joining four other invitees for a pre-draft workout on the auxiliary court. Also participating were guard Adrian Oliver (San Jose State), swingman Marshon Brooks (Providence) and forwards Jamel McLean (Xavier) and Malcolm Thomas (San Diego State).
“When you come from a winning tradition, you know what it takes to win,” said Mack, who declared for the NBA draft following his junior season. “Like in the first quarter diving on loose balls, that adds up at the end of the game, gives you an extra possession. I think little things like that can add up at the end for you when you’re interviewing for the organization.”
The last time Mack was at Verizon Center, he and his eighth-seeded Butler teammates were celebrating a 71-70 victory over No. 1 seed Pittsburgh in a second-round game that ruined many an office tournament pool bracket. Mack scored a game-high 30 points against the Panthers, but he came within a whisker of being remembered as the guilty party in what could have been a heartbreaking loss.
That’s because with Butler ahead by a point, Mack carelessly fouled Gilbert Brown with 1.4 seconds to go. The Pittsburgh guard made the first free throw to tie the game, but on his ensuing miss, teammate Nasir Robinson fouled Matt Howard while the Bulldogs’ forward was going for the rebound.
In the opening round, Mack scored a team-high 15 points in a 60-58 win against Old Dominion that also came down to the final seconds at Verizon Center. With the game tied, the Bulldogs’ Shawn Vanzant was driving to the basket and slipped but managed to toss the ball toward the rim. Butler’s Andrew Smith tapped the ball off the backboard in the air, and Howard was able to score as time expired.
“We had two great games here, game winners,” Mack said. “I love the atmosphere at the Verizon Center. It’s a great place to play.”
Mack’s projected draft position varies widely in many mock drafts, but he won’t be a consideration for the Wizards at No. 6 or 18. Washington’s other pick is 34th, and there’s a possibility Mack lasts that long, although some mock drafts have him going late in the first round.
At 6 feet 3, Mack would be an undersized NBA guard, but the Wizards certainly are in need of depth in the back court, and Mack said he and John Wall, last year’s top overall selection for Washington, already know one another well.
The Wizards also could use a winning disposition in the locker room after years of being relegated to the draft lottery.
“They want guys that can compete hard every day in practice and in games,” Mack said. “It’s a long season. It’s a big adjustment from college to pro, so just showing them I’m in shape and I can compete every day.”