INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Shelvin Mack and JaJuan Johnson were featured regularly on Central Indiana sports shows during the last three or four years.
Mack started for Butler each of the last three seasons, while Johnson was a key player during a spectacular four-year run with the Boilermakers. Johnson was the Big Ten Player of the Year this past season while Mack played in consecutive National Championship games.
To say Shelvin Mack and JaJuan Johnson had successful college careers would be an understatement. Mack and Johnson are two of the most recognizable faces to come from Indiana colleges in recent memory, and they are looking forward playing professionally in the not-so-distant future.
Both are set to pack their bags and leave the friendly Indiana surroundings once the NBA lockout ends. However, until then, Mack and Johnson are teaming up together during the Indy Pro Am at IUPUI, giving fans (and sportscasters) one final summer treat.
"This is the time where it's kind of like, you push all those rivalries aside. You really just enjoy each other and have a good time," said a smiling JaJuan Johnson.
Butler and Purdue were the state's top two college programs over the last few years, but never played each other. Regardless, sharing the spotlight in the basketball-crazy state caused Mack and Johnson to get to know and appreciate each others' game. Mack made sure they could be teammates during this Indy Pro Am run.
"I had to do some recruiting today, he was on a different team...I had to do some recruiting and tell him the 2011 draft class has to stick together. It was great to get out there and play with him," said Mack.
As a first-round pick, Johnson has guaranteed contract waiting for him if and when the NBA season begins. Meanwhile, as a second-round pick, NBA money is not an absolute certainty for Mack. However, the former Butler guard stands a very good chance to make the Wizards roster and contribute immediately.
Neither Johnson nor Mack seem worried about the lockout, even though it has the potential to cost them money just as they are starting their professional careers.
"Just stay positive through everything, I know the time will come where I'll be ready to play. I'll be playing and I'll be getting paid, really throughout that process just staying positive and keep working hard," said Johnson, who scored 12 points in his first Indy Pro Am game of the summer.
"I'm just enjoying my time off right now. Hopefully things will get situated, but we only can take it day by day," added Mack who led the Purple team with 17 points Tuesday.
Whenever the lockout does end, fans of Butler and Purdue will likely circle Wizards and Celtics games in Conseco Fieldhouse on their calendar.
In the meantime, the Indy Pro Am is a chance for fans to see them together, in a laid-back, yet competitive atmosphere. Games are held Tuesday's and Thursday's at IUPUI between 6-9 PM.