Dreher's Mack returns to recruiting trail ready to find new team
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The last couple of weeks have given Dreher High School basketball star Tevin Mack a slight sense of déjà vu.
Before finding out Shaka Smart was leaving VCU to lead the University of Texas basketball program, quite a few eyes in the world of college basketball were fixed on the 6-6 standout. Since being granted his release from the National Letter of Intent he signed not too long ago, Mack now finds himself seemingly as the center of attention as teams fight for his services for the next four to five years.
"It's definitely more difficult now," Mack admitted. "I got a lot more schools coming in that didn't even talk to me the first time around like a lot of, I guess you could say, big-name schools. I had that before, but it's getting kind of crazy now.
"It's always cool to get recognized for the stuff you do and it's getting more hectic. I'm getting different calls and texts every day from different coaches that I've never talked to before and it's kind of hard to build a relationship with people you don't even know."
The move by Smart came as somewhat of a surprise to the Class AAA Co-Player of the Year. Mack, who found out about Smart's departure while in Myrtle Beach for the North/South All-Star Game, says the former Rams head coach thought about leaving and he completely understands why he made the decision.
"I heard the rumors all week," Mack said. "They were talking about it and I kind of didn't really think too much of it. I heard it before. Like last year, he was going to Marquette or something. So, I never really followed up on it until this year and I looked into it more.
"He never actually told me he wasn't going to leave. He told me he was kind of considering it, but he never told me he wasn't going to leave. So I kind of figured he was. I was just thinking, 'Aww man, I don't know what I'm going to do now.'"
Smart's departure left Mack in a bind with a scholarship that he no longer wanted from VCU.
"I felt like the main reason for me going there originally was because of him, how much I liked him as a person, as a coach," Mack said. "I thought he was going to make me a much better man. It's kind of who I wanted to play for. He played a huge part in my decision to go there. So, without him, it kind of didn't seem the same to me. I mean, it's still a great place to go, but it [didn't] fit me any more."
Mack says he had 15 offers from schools prior to signing to VCU. Since his return to the recruiting trail, he says he's got five "definite" offers from schools and others are showing interest in what can only be described as the mad dash for Mack. But Mack has gone from dealing with recruiters himself to having them contact family members in order to reach him.
"It helps a lot," Mack said. "The first time around, it was all on me a little bit. All the recruiting stuff came unexpected. I kind of took it on my own the first time around. This time, my mom and my brother are helping me out a lot with it just taking all the calls. It made me focus on school more. That's what more important…focusing on school and grades and keeping me in the books. I appreciate that from them."
"It's been overwhelming," Tevin's mother, Paula, said with a laugh about handling the recruiting calls for her son. "My phone rings while I'm at work or at home while I'm trying to sleep or during the weekend while I'm out doing something like last weekend. It's kind of calmed down over the weekend, but it picked back up yesterday."
Now that Mack is available to sign again, many fans would like to see All-State selection team up with another All-State pick in South Carolina signee P.J. Dozier. The two recently were teamed together in the Florida vs. USA Hardwood Classic and, for Mack, it was a really good experience that he believes could benefit Columbia.
"He's a great player," Mack said when asked about Dozier. "He's definitely a pass-first player and I like that. I like to shoot the ball. He's a good point guard and a great player."
"That'll be a good thing to play with him. It actually would bring the city a lot of hope and a lot of excitement. I think that would be a good thing for the city."
Before we go trying to place Mack in garnet and black with the McDonald's All-America, remember that Mack has a number of different options available to him including Texas. While the idea of playing at home is a refreshing one for the senior, he is going to sign with whatever team provides him with what he and his family are looking for in a program.
"Definitely, I'm looking for somewhere I can go and make an impact right away," Mack said. "I don't want to go somewhere and sit on the bench for the first two years. I want to have experience. I want to play early because the only way you get better is to play early and get experience. That's important.
"I definitely want to play for a winning program. I don't want to go somewhere and lose. That's never fun. I definitely want to play for a coach that's going to be there the whole time. I don't want to go somewhere and the coach is going to get fired or leave. I want to have a stable program under me so that I can keep developing and getting better."
"All the schools that's calling him now and the other ones that were on the list before, I'm fine with either one," Paula said. "It doesn't matter about the distance. I'm just fine with either one. As long as we can get him back and forth home, I'm good."
Mack tells WIS he hasn't set a timetable for when he will make his announcement, but that doesn't mean his mother hasn't given him suggestions on that topic. In fact, she believes the announcement should come on a pretty important day in her son's life.
"I told him since May 1st is his 18th birthday," she said. "That would be a good day to do it."
Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.