Ex-Butler stars Hayward, Mack ready for NBA season
Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack are great friends, but they've seen enough of each other.
The two ex-Butler stars practiced together at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday morning, putting in some of their final work before the end of the NBA lockout. Though they have enjoyed working out on their old home court, they are ready for meaningful games. The season is expected to start on Christmas Day.
''I'm just excited to get back to work,'' Hayward said. ''Especially with high schoolers and college guys playing basketball, you watch it on TV, it makes you want to play.''
Hayward and Mack helped Butler reach the national title game in 2010, and Mack helped the Bulldogs reach the national final again in 2011. Hayward averaged 5.4 points per game and shot 47 percent from 3-point range as a rookie for the Utah Jazz last season. Mack, a point guard, was a second-round draft pick by the Washington Wizards in 2011.
Both played in the Indy Pro-Am league over the summer. Mack also spent some time practicing with friends in his home state of Kentucky. For the past several weeks, Hayward and Mack have been partners.
''We play a lot of one-on-one games,'' Mack said. ''It helps my game playing against someone bigger, and it helps his game playing against someone smaller. We're always pushing each other.''
Mack left school early to enter the draft and is happy he'll have a chance to make the most of that decision.
''I'm blessed,'' Mack said. ''I'm glad I was able to get through this lockout without an injury. This is an opportunity, especially with me not having a contract already. I'm just really excited to get out there.''
Mack appreciated the rare time away from basketball.
''The past few years, I've been doing USA stuff, LeBron camps, and in high school, I was always gone with AAU, so to have this break was kind of good to spend some time with my family,'' he said.
The challenge was to stay on task in face of the uncertainty.
''At one point we thought we were going, then we weren't, then we were going,'' Hayward said.
The condensed schedule could include some instances of games on three straight nights.
''It's going to be difficult, especially considering how long NBA games are, how intense they get,'' Hayward said. ''But it's our job, so we're just going to have to be ready for it, take it game by game, make sure we drink a lot of fluids.''
It'll be a bigger adjustment for Mack, who hasn't faced a grueling NBA schedule.
''It's going to be tough,'' he said. ''You just got to make sure you're doing all the proper things off the court, taking care of your body, eating healthy and just try to stay focused throughout the entire season.''
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