Reporting Mike Max
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s unusual to have two players that earn division scholarships from the same high school basketball team. It’s even more unusual when they’re going to the same college and that they happen to be best friends.
Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney were brought together by a love for basketball and have been inseparable since.
“Jackie and me have been playing together since sixth grade, and since then we’ve been stuck at the hip,” Mullaney said. “We always hang out together, we always play basketball together.”
Together they are the nucleus of a talented and young Eden Prairie team – one that looks up to them.
“These two allow us to play freshmen,” Eden Prairie coach Chris Carr said. “They are great leaders, they are great communicators, and, more importantly, they are great teachers. So that allows us to be able to utilize some younger players.”
The two are highly motivated. Last season they played Hopkins four times. They won once and lost in a state title game, which serves the two as a daily reminder of how good they need to be.
If the name Mullaney sounds familiar, it’s because Mullaney’s father, Mark Mullaney, played on the Vikings defensive line. Now, however, he is an interested parent.
“My dad shoots with me before every game,” Mullaney said. “I always look forward to after the game when he kind of critiques how I play.”
And after high school, the pair won’t be done playing together, because both have made commitments to Pam Borton and the Gophers.
“Being that [Johnson] is my best friend, it’s pretty awesome that we get to be there together for the next four years,” Mullaney said.
What the gophers will get are two hungry basketball players who happen to be much more.
“Whenever you have the luxury of having your best players be your hardest workers and fiercest competitors, that’s a dream world for a coach,” Carr said.