Shayne Whittington arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday, but he won’t take part in a practice or go through physical contact drills anytime soon.
The undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan had a number of teams calling to inquire about him prior to the NBA Draft … but then what he called a “freak accident” happened.
During a workout on May 8th, he got caught up and broke the fibula in his left leg. That required surgery, which he subsequently had, and hurt his shot of hearing his name called on June 26th — draft night.
Afterwards, the Pacers reached out to his agent and the two sides came to an agreement on a non-guaranteed deal. The 6-10, 237-pound center is making progress and has returned to the court, though in a limited fashion. He’s aiming to be full-go by the time training camp rolls around in October.
Whittington made his first appearance at the Pacers’ rookie/free agent camp Thursday morning. VigilantSports.com caught up with him about the injury, rehab, and what impressed NBA teams.
Read the Q&A below:
So off crutches and out of the boot, what have you been able to do thus far?
A little bit of body weight stuff. We just started so I mean I’m pretty sore already. It’s been two months since I’ve been able to do anything. Doctors wouldn’t let me do much except for trying to eat well to stay in shape. That’s about it.
Hopefully I can do a little bit of ball handling right now. That’s what I’m planning on doing as soon as I see the trainer and see what the limitations are with that. I believe I can step. I can’t do any running. I can’t lift up on the toes yet. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to do that. I’m no longer going to Orlando with them because the the flexibility in the toe and the ankle is apparently almost back to normal. It’s looking good right now.
As far as you know, it was a successful surgery?
Oh yeah. The MRI look good. The X-rays look great. Hopefully, now that I’m out of the boot, everything really picks up.
What was your reaction when the Pacers first reached out to you and they heavy interest in your talents?
My agent called me and said, ‘Hey, (they’re) still interested.’ I got lots of calls right before I went into surgery as well. I kind of felt reassured knowing that teams had a little bit of interest in me after I broke it. It’s always a waiting game to see how it goes to figure out what they really want.
What workout were you at when the injury occurred?
I was in Chicago, I was working out with my trainer down there. I went up to contest one of my fellow workout mates and we both came down. He landed on top of me, my leg got caught underneath me and just snapped. It was kind of like a freak accident but everything happens for a reason.
Up until that injury, what was your feel for the draft and where you might fall?
I’m always optimistic. I always hope for the best but plan for the worst. I didn’t even really think about it to be honest. I was just looking forward to workouts.
Reports say you had a great showing at the Portsmouth Invitational. What did you do there that you thought stood out to a lot of eyes?
I didn’t really shoot well in college. I never shot the ball that much, either. Every shot that I took in college was either a shot-clock situation or a pick-and-pop kind of thing and they were always 15-footers. The 3s were always (because of) the shot clock so it was a low-percentage shot. I really extended my range in the three weeks that I had before Portsmouth so that’s what I really think teams really liked — my size and my shooting ability. The way I could run up and down the court, too, kind of made them a little excited.
Why (are you wearing) No. 36?
They just gave it to me, to be honest. I was 21 in high school. Obviously 21 is taken — David West — so I thought 42 — 21 and 21 together. So, 42 will hopefully be my number.
Watch highlights of Whittington below: