TOC: Brian Butch Interview

CHAPEL HILL -- <i>Inside Carolina's</i> J.B. Cissell sat down for an interview with Carolina target Brian Butch and his AAU coach on Friday evening at the Smith Center.

Brian Butch

First, talk about the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions and the level of talent that you'll be facing.

"This is the best. It's the top of the league, you could say. It's exciting and an honor to be invited. I think everyone is excited."

Last year some of the guys who will be going to college here locally made a name for themseslves – J.J. Redick, Raymond Felton, and some others. I know your first goal is to win, but you see it as an opportunity to make a name for yourself and showcase some of your individual skills?

"It definitely is an opportunity to play in this great tournament where a lot of people are watching to see how you play with your teammates."

What are you looking at in colleges; have you narrowed it down at all, yet?

"I have it down to eight, right now. You've got Wisconsin, Marquette, Iowa, Tennessee, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona, and Stanford,"

What factors will you be considering when making your decision?

"Mostly, the people that I'm around, but also what the school offers academically, and athletically. Mostly, the people that I'm around."

Do you have a time table as to when you want to narrow it down to five or to three?

"Not really. I'm just going to go with when I feel comfortable. I think everybody that I'm dealing with now respects that, and that's a good position to be put in where they honor what you say. I really respect that with all of the colleges."

You mentioned North Carolina. You're sitting in the Dean Dome where they play their games. Will you be able to talk to the coaches at all and make an unofficial visit?

"It depends on how we do in the tournament. If we don't win our pool, there is a possibility. If we don't win our pool then we are going to do that, but hopefully we are still playing on Sunday."

How much contact have you had with UNC, and where do you stand with them right now?

"They have come up to a couple of games. Coach Wojcik has come to the high school this spring, so they seem interested right now. But I'm just playing that by ear because I know that they have some other players that they are looking at too."

For someone who hasn't seen you play, how would you describe your game?

"I can shoot the ball, yet I can go inside and be tall. I like to pass the ball a lot."

Would you say you're more of a face-up player?

"Yes, definitely. I think one of my strengths is that I can shoot the ball a little farther out for a big guy, but I have some weaknesses where I need to improve."

What is the strongest part of your game?

"Shooting from the outside, I guess, because not a lot of people expect that."

Where do you have room for improvement?

"Lots of places. (Laughing) My left-hand dribble, playing with my back to the basket, and I could go on and on."

Matt Doherty has mentioned that he likes versatile players, guys who can pass, handle, and shoot, even in post players. They didn't really have the personnel last year to run the offense or the defense that they wanted to run. Will what you see from them this year in terms of style of play influence your decision?

"Kind of. I watched some games this year and saw what they tried to run and how they ran it with what they had. I like the way they play."

I think you'll see a change this year. I think you'll see more pressure defense and a more up-tempo style of play. They have room for another big man. What can you offer a team like North Carolina?

"How hard I will work when I get to college. I'll go at it hard to try to improve to make myself the best player I can."

Is distance from home a factor?

"Not really. My parents have been good about everything. They said, 'You have to go where you'll be happy and where you'll feel most comfortable.'"

AAU Head Coach Ritchie Davis

A big man is a priority for Carolina this year. What does he have to offer?

"Brian's biggest asset is his competitiveness. I know every game Coach Wojcik has watched when he's been up in Appleton or at the Spiece Tournament, Brian's competitiveness has stuck out – seeing a seven-foot kid dive on the floor for a loose ball.

"And, obviously, he shoots the ball. Offensively, he's so darn gifted for a big kid – much more so than most kids. He can score with his back to the basket, but until he develops more lower body strength, offensively he can really face up and shoot the ball."

Matt Doherty has said he's looking for versatility, and it sounds as if Brian has those skills.

"And from what they have told us, the thing they like about Brian is he shoots the ball as well as any kid across the country in this class. And he's showing that he can gain weight. He's put on 30 pounds in the last 12 months. If he can continue to put some weight on in high school and get him here, he can put on the necessary weight and muscle to compete in the ACC and play for North Carolina."

I saw some reports that he would take an unofficial visit and talk to the coaches and look around. He said that will depend on what's going on in terms of if you win the pool.

"Either way, he's going to do it. If we play on Sunday, Monday night at 12:01 he's going to meet the coaching staff here, and they'll do some things. We've also set up a [time to come back]. Brian will take an official visit to North Carolina early this fall, pending a scholarship offer. They are the only school out of his final eight that has not offered, but every indication is that they plan on offering – very soon, possibly this weekend."

UNC was limited as to what they could do this past year, due to personnel. Eventually, I think they will press more on defense and more up-tempo on offense. Can he excel in that type of game?

"Great guy trailing the ball for a post guy. As a four-man, outletting the ball, he's a kid that can trail the play and shoot the 3-point shot at seven feet or put the ball on the floor for himself or a teammate.

"I agree with you. With Felton, McCants, Sean May, and those guys, Brian's style of play will blend in with what else they've already got, but only the coaching staff can really comment on that. And they've been really up-front with Brian about what they think. So far, so good."

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