With just a week to go until college basketball's best await the moment their names are called by their future NBA employers, the pressure is intensifying as teams make finals motions towards who they want on their roster.
Never mind the NBA labor dispute currently underway which could leave the league sidelined for the 2011-2012 season. Right now it's about the chance to put last minute impressions on teams in workouts and prepare for one of the most important days in a soon-to-be rookie's career.
For former Butler guard Shelvin Mack, the last month of conditioning after declaring for the draft has been a whirlwind, and reflecting on his last three years of college basketball before possibly hearing his name called in the first round is something he will never forget.
"I've been waiting my whole life for this opportunity," Mack said. "The past two weeks I've been to eight different cities, so that's a lot of fun. I'm just going out there meeting new guys, meeting general managers and just enjoying the whole process."
After two back-to-back Final Four appearances, the ex-Butler player edged his way into the spotlight. In a year where the NBA draft features big names like Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker, Mack made his presence known and has had some fun making a name for himself amongst a stacked 2011 class.
"I talk a lot of smack to a lot of people," Mack joked about his competition. "It's been very unique. I've seen Kemba Walker and have talked with him [along with] Enes Kanter from Kentucky. It's been a very different situation than I'm used to."
Since declaring for the draft on May 8, Mack hasn't had much free time in his schedule. Traveling all across the United States, working out with eight teams thus far has given the guard a different perspective on what he's going through and taking pride in his experience as a Bulldog. Mack says he still remains in contact with his teammates and coaching staff as they send their praise to him during his journey to the NBA.
With no small egos in the upcoming draft, being a Bulldog has a special significance for Mack considering he comes from a place where it's UK basketball or bust.
"I have a lot of pride in it, especially coming from Lexington, Kentucky where UK basketball hails," Mack said. "I always have something to say when I go back home. My three years I've been in college I've finished ahead of UK each time and I take that seriously."
The Butler network has helped Mack get acclimated to his NBA workouts and what to expect upon being drafted. Gordon Hayward was the first Butler player to lead the way into the league and has been an insightful resource for his former teammate. The Jazz forward has gone through a lot in his first season and tells Mack to anticipate the unexpected with each game.
"Some games he might play 38 to 40 minutes and then the next game he might not see the court. So if I'm able to handle that minutes leak, I'll be alright."
Also taking his chances in the draft is former teammate Matt Howard who most recently had a workout with the Detroit Pistons. The ex-Butler forward hasn't generated too much buzz surrounding his NBA prospects, but hopes to hear his name called in either of the two rounds.
The 225 pound, 6-foot-8 Howard is seemingly undersized and has a slim chance to play at the forward position in the NBA. Though averaging career highs in points with 16.4, rebounds with 7.7 and a three-point percentage under 40, Howard's numbers look to put him as a late second round pick, if he's even drafted at all.
Mack has confidence in his teammate looking back on how the duo dominated the Horizon League as well as some of the best competition over the last two college basketball seasons.
"I think [he] has a great chance. He's a winner. I think every organization in the NBA wants someone on their team that can win and know how to win. You can count on him to play hard for all 82 games."
Though there isn't much buzz around in what round Howard will go, several mock-draft sites place Mack to be chosen in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. While tempting to see what other people think of his prospects, Mack doesn't take the sites too seriously.
"It's just random people having some fun at a computer, same thing as doing a bracket," Mack said. "You just got to go out there and play hard whether you end up in the first or second round because you don't know what your opportunity will be."
One of Mack's eight workouts was with Chicago and if drafted by the Bulls, he looks forward to being a part of another team with proven winning ways. Though local to Indianapolis for his college career, many Pacer fans would love the chance to see Mack wearing blue and yellow next season as this year's playoff run is enticing for any player to want to be a part of.
"They keep improving," Mack said. "Hopefully I'll have a chance to work out with them in the next week. My schedule's hectic so I don't know if I'll have the chance to get that in."
With under a week until Mack will sit down in front of his television with his mother and sister in Lexington, Kentucky, nerves are running high for the guard as he plans to get as much practice in and see as many teams as he can. Plans to be at home anxiously waiting for the phone to ring next Thursday have Mack very excited of how his future will change in one night.
"Hopefully I can sleep the night before so I'm not up thinking about it all night. I'm just looking forward to it."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun