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SHORTLY BEFORE practice began in October, Butler coach Brad Stevens created a PowerPoint slideshow to show his underclassmen. It was, essentially, a message about opportunity. On each side of a photo of a smiling Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack in USA Basketball gear was a list—a long list—of the pair's accomplishments since arriving on campus as underhyped recruits.
Hayward's list ended with June's NBA draft, in which he was picked ninth, by the Jazz. Mack, a junior, will add to a résumé that already includes a Final Four, a U-19 world championship and—from this summer alone—participation in the Adidas Nations, Deron Williams and LeBron James camps, as well as two USA Basketball Select Team camps. "Two years ago Shelvin's a freshman, and nobody knows about him," Stevens says. "Now look what he's done."
Mack, a 6'3" combo guard, was a key part of the Bulldogs' run to the national title game, scoring 25 points against UTEP in the first round and putting up double figures in all six NCAA tournament games. But he wasn't regarded as an NBA prospect until this off-season, when he received rave reviews after scrimmaging against Team USA's senior national team in Las Vegas and New York City.
Heeding advice from two NBA point guards—the Nuggets' Chauncey Billups and the Celtics' Rajon Rondo—Mack says he's been trying to make his footwork more efficient, protecting the ball on drives to the rim and gaining a better feel for running an offense. "He's really ahead of the curve, man," Billups said of Mack in August. "His patience is great—he knows when to take shots and when to make plays for someone else. That's something that took me two to three years [in the NBA] to learn."
Now Mack is eyeing a return trip to the Final Four and status as a first-team All-America. Stevens would gladly make those updates to Mack's list.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Coach Brad Stevens (4th season)
2009--10 record 33--5
Horizon 18--0 (1st)
NCAA tournament National final