Butch's Coach Says Injury Isn't Serious

Brian Butch (7-0, 215 C, Appleton, WI) has been held out of most of the last couple of weeks of high profile camps due to a back injury. He missed the entire ABCD adidas camp because of it. But according to his coach, the injury is not serious and Butch will be in Las Vegas this week for the Big Time tournament.

According to Butch's high school coach, Greg Hartjes, the injury occurred in Colorado Springs during the USA Basketball Youth Festival when he was undercut and experienced back spasms as a result.

"He tried to play the next weekend and didn't give it a chance to heal properly," Hartjes said. "We were at a tournament in Kearny, Nebraska and played nine games in four days ending the Sunday before Brian was supposed to leave for the ABCD camp.

"He was disappointed that he missed it but he made the right choice. He's feeling better now and got a chance to play a little bit (Tuesday night) in some pickup games we had as a team."

During his time off from competition, Butch "did a lot of shooting; that didn't cause any pain". However, because of the injuries and the constant recruiting Brian receives, Hartjes feels like his star player isn't having as good of a summer as he did last year in terms of improving and putting on weight and muscle.

"We get coaches calling all the time to see if we're having open gym on a particular night so they can come and see Brian play," Hartjes said. "When they show up, I'm not allowed to put him through drills so he generally just shoots around on his own or tries to play a little five-on-five."

Recently, a number of high profile head coaches and their assistants have made the trek north to see the top 10 prospect for themselves. Just this past week, Hartjes hosted Arizona head coach Lute Olson, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and a North Carolina assistant on one day and then had Iowa's head coach Steve Alford in along with assistants from Marquette, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Stanford, North Carolina and Kansas the next day.

"Brian's back wasn't feeling well when Lute came in to see him," Hartjes said. "He shot around a little by himself and he tried to play a little but mostly he couldn't do much. I got a chance to speak with coach Olson but he only stayed in town for about an hour and fifteen minutes."

Hartjes, who doubles as a math teacher during the regular school season, said that while it's exciting to have the coaches around he won't mind it when the phone stops ringing at his house.

"My wife doesn't like it at all," he said.

All of the calls will end (or at least taper off dramatically) the day Brian commits to the school of his choice. The consensus is that it will come down to North Carolina, Wisconsin, Stanford, Iowa or Arizona.

"I think he'll get it done in the fall sometime," Hartjes said. "That's when he'll take the rest of his official visits. He's only taken one and that was to Arizona in the spring. He's taken unofficial visits to North Carolina and Iowa and plenty to Wisconsin and Marquette. The Iowa visit was about a year and a half ago."

Hartjes said that each time Butch returns from a visit he expects him to commit because he's so excited about the time he just had on that school's campus.

"When he came back from Madison (Wisconsin) I thought that was the place he was going to want to play. Then he went out to Tucson and, boy, if he would have had a chance I think he would have made a commitment to Arizona the day he got back. He was also very excited about North Carolina when he went down there. Actually, he's excited about all of the schools on his list."

Butch is expected to make official visits to North Carolina during the second weekend in September and then to Kansas, Wisconsin and one other school, which is unclear at this time.

"North Carolina and Arizona are places where it's pretty obvious that the basketball program dominates a lot of the social life on campus," Hartjes said. "Wildcat basketball is pretty big in Tucson and the same is true with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I think he knows that. Here, it's Green Bay Packers' football that everyone is crazy about."

Hartjes said he plans to appreciate the rest of his time with Brian and said that he realizes how rare it is to coach a true blue-chip prospect in high school basketball.

"We haven't had a player of Brian's caliber in this area in over 30 years," he said. "He still needs to work on his shot blocking and needs to become a better offensive rebounder. Offensively, we'll give him the green light (in his senior year) to shoot out on the perimeter. Last year he did that a little bit but this year we'll get him more shots all over the place. He can really shoot the three."

The physical questions still remain with Butch, but Hartjes is confident that Brian will be fine.

"His back is going to be okay," he said. "He does a lot of exercises for it. As far as him gaining strength, he's just starting to fill out. He'll improve a lot as an athlete with time."


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