More than 250 players in the National Basketball Association will be free agents in July. Only one of them came out of Lexington.
Shelvin Mack, who finished his eighth season in the league with the Charlotte Hornets, spends most of his summers in Atlanta but frequently comes home for youth basketball events. He was in Lexington for such an event over the weekend; he was one of three former Kentucky hoopsters who lent his name to the Mack-Miller-Lofton high school tournament held at the Kentucky Basketball Commission, and joined Chris Lofton for a question-and-answer session before varsity play began Friday.
Mack, who turned 29 in April, will be one of more than 150 unrestricted free agents in the NBA this off-season. He’s played for seven teams in his career and earned nearly $18 million in that time, according to Spotrac.
What’s next for the former Bryan Station standout?
“I have no idea. It’s a crazy summer,” Mack said. “There’s 250 free agents. I think it’s like the most ever, so we’ve just gotta kind of wait and see, feel it out and try to pick the right situation.”
The Kentucky Basketball Commission will have a team in The Basketball Tournament, an annual event in which 64 teams made up mostly of former college stars and non-NBA professionals compete for a $2 million grand prize. Mack is the head coach of that team, which will play as part of an eight-team regional at Frederick Douglass High School next month in Lexington.
It’s an opportunity to help promote KBC — the spiritual successor to the Kentucky Basketball Academy, which shuttered last year — and also give Mack a taste of what he might like to do when his playing days are finished.
“I’m still trying to work on stuff that I want to do after I retire,” Mack said. “It’s an opportunity for me to test out if I like coaching and find out if I’m good at it. And also just being here in Lexington, I couldn’t pass that opportunity up.”
Mack paused before adding with a grin: “And the two million dollars. I think that’s getting everybody’s attention.”
Matt Howard, one of Mack’s teammates at Butler University, is on Team KBC along with recent Eastern Kentucky University standout Nick Mayo and former Christian County star Anthony Hickey. Lofton, who played at Mason County before a fruitful career at Tennessee, will also play for Mack.
Lofton is excited to have the opportunity, but said it’s “gonna be weird” to play for “Coach Shelvin.”
“I’m not calling him Coach, though,” Lofton said with a laugh. “I’m just gonna say ‘Shelvin.’”
Former University of Pittsburgh star Jaron Brown, one of Mack’s mentors in his youth, was recently hired as the boys’ basketball head coach at Woodford County. The same school last week hired former University of Kentucky standout Erik Daniels as its girls’ coach.
If coaching suits Mack, might he find his way back to Central Kentucky?
“Definitely, especially high schools,” Mack said. “You can impact kids at that level and teach ’em to grow up and be a man. I definitely see myself coaching at the high school level and in Lexington.”