The price of Butler's NCAA tournament success again will be a key underclassman leaving the program early.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, junior guard Shelvin Mack has decided to hire an agent and remain in the NBA draft. Gordon Hayward parlayed Butler's first national title game appearance into becoming a lottery pick last year, but Mack is leaving despite the realistic possibility he could slip to the early second round this June.
The departure of Mack and the graduation of forward Matt Howard deprives the Bulldogs of their two top scorers and likely sends them tumbling out of most preseason top 25 polls.
Enough talent remains for Butler to contend in the Horizon League and return to the NCAA tournament, but it's difficult to envision a core of Ronald Nored, Khyle Marshall and Andrew Smith developing quickly enough to make another Final Four push. The last two years have proven writing off a Brad Stevens-coached team isn't wise, but Butler definitely will miss Mack's ability to create off the dribble for himself and his teammates in particular.
Had Mack remained at Butler one more season, it's possible he could have cemented his status as a first-round pick even in what figures to be a stronger draft next year. An NBA scout said Friday that Mack's two biggest weaknesses are his lack of efficiency (40.5 percent shooting) and the fact that he hasn't proven he can run a team as a point guard.
"I don't know if he can get a guarantee at the end of the first round, but if he stays and has a good three weeks or four weeks, he can definitely move into the later first round," the scout said before Mack's decision. "He's a very high character kid, very coachable, he can shoot the ball. He can definitely be successful in an up-and-down system as well as running pick-and-roll. And he's not bad on defense. I just think he's not going to get a promise in the first round."
The true measure of Mack's decision will come on draft day.
If he's taken in the first round and receives a guaranteed contract, then this gamble will have been proven worthwhile. If he slips to the second round and has to fight his way onto a roster in a potential lockout-shortened season, then there will surely be some who second guess his decision.