TOC: Saturday Butch Report

CHAPEL HILL -- Brian Butch impressed with a big showing against elite opposition on Saturday morning and then battled through an injury for a solid afternoon performance.

Yesterday, Butch's 28 points (though the official scorer had him for 33) against Jackie Butler and Co. raised a lot of eyebrows in the Smith Center -- but could he do it again on Saturday?

Indeed.

On Saturday morning at Chapel Hill High School, he put up 36 points against Darryl Watkins and Will Sheridan of the Tim Thomas Playaz, including one 3-pointer and 17-18 FT's. In the afternoon game against thick big man Hassan Fofana, Butch suffered a sprained left ankle in the early minutes, but played through the injury for 22 points (6-12 FG, 10-10 FT) and 12 rebounds in the win.

Butch has the offensive arsenal to be a major factor in college. He can face up and shoot the jump shot out to 3-point range, he runs the floor well enough to score in transition, and he can post up and shoot the half-hook, but lack of strength sometimes forces him to find alternatives to bulling his way to the low block. When he's fouled, it's almost a guaranteed two points. He often attracts a crowd, and he's adept at finding the open man when double-teamed.

On defense, there are still questions to be answered. At times, he gets pushed around by bulkier guys making moves towards the basket, which sometimes takes him out of shot-blocking position. While he's got room for improvement on defense, if he was much better now, he'd be getting consideration from NBA teams.


Butch, after the ankle injury.

Postgame Interviews --

You are wearing a Carolina shirt in one of the photos we have in your online profile. Are you a Carolina fan at all?

"I'm more of an NCAA basketball fan. I do like Carolina. I've like them since I was little, but I've liked a lot of teams since I was little."

"I just love it when March Madness comes around. It's the best time of year. Hopefully, we're still playing. Everybody else is playing to get those last-second buzzer beaters. That's why I love college basketball."

Did you buy the shirt, or was it a gift?

"Actually, I just bought it. It was a nice Polo shirt. I was like, 'Hey, it looks good.' It goes with blue jeans and everything. It looked good, so we bought it."

Let's talk about your performances in your first two games in this event. You are going against some very talented players. Today, you put 36 points on the board against 6-11, 230-pound Darryl Watkins. I could see you were disappointed in the loss, but could you talk about how you played?

"I just took what they gave me. My teammates gave me good passes where I could do something with it. It goes back to those guys, because if I don't get the ball in the right position to score or to kick it back out, I'm not going to be able to score."

You were 17-18 from the free-throw line. That's a nice stroke.

"It's just a lot of work in the gym, even when you are tired. It's just a lot of shooting, shooting, shooting."

It looked like the guys with bulk, knocked you around a little bit and that gaining weight and lower body strength is an area where you can improve. Is that an area where you plan to work?

"Definitely. That's been one of my main concerns since I was a freshman. I've just got to put the weight on and keep it. But, [for now] I'm going with my current gifts."

It seems big guys want to face up and shoot three's. That's not a bad thing, but many guys neglect their post game becaous of it. I saw a hook from you today. Is that something you want to work on?

"Yes. The more of an arsenal you have, the better you'll be as a player. You just have to work, work, work, and improve."

You've said that you want to take an offical visit to Carolina. That tells me that they are in your top five. Do you have a ranking right now?

"Not really."

Do you have one favorite?

"No. That's just what I'm comfortable with right now."

A few years back there were some guys from Kohler, Wisconsin who played at Carolina – the Wolf brothers, Jeff and Joe. Are you familiar with them?

"Yes. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to talk to those guys to see how they liked it and what they did with it."


Pete Butch, father of Brian

Carolina is pretty far from home. Is distance a factor in Brian's decision, as to where he will play in college?

"It's a long distance, but it's up to Brian wherever he will get the best education and fit on the team and do the best for the team and work together. That's what we're looking at the most right now."

I know he has a list of his top eight schools, and Carolina is the only one yet to offer. From talking to him and to his AAU coach, they feel that's forthcoming. Have you all set up a time to make an official visit?

"Oh, no we haven't. I don't think we're as far along as they think we are, but the coaching staff has been very nice. They call Brian and talk to him, and whatever happens, Brian is very fortunate for the chance."

You are mostly seeing the inside of a lot of gyms, but what is your impression of North Carolina, and Chapel Hill, in particular?

The college is a beautiful facility, no doubt about it. This ranks with all of them, and you can't say anything bad. Hopefully, maybe on Sunday, we'll have a chance to take a good look at it and walk through after the tournament. But, hopefully, we're playing tomorrow too."


Twelve year-old sister, Laura

Brian is getting a lot of attention for his basketball skills. What is it like being the sister of a guy who is becoming a celebrity?

"It's kind of nice. A lot of people ask me that, and they don't understand, but I guess it's nice."

I guess he's just "big brother" to you, huh?

"Yes."

UNC is considering him for a scholarship. How would you feel him going that far away from home?

"Well, like my parents said, he's going to be gone either way, so I don't think it will make a difference how far. He's going to be gone, and it's going to be an adjustment, I think."

Do you have a preference?

"It's his decision, and I know he will do what he thinks is best, and I will support him in that all the way."

He seems really competitive. He probably wins in basketball, but have you ever beat him in another game?

"Sometimes we'd play board games when we were little, and he'd get really competitive. It was fun because we'd try to beat him. He always thought he was best because he would beat us in basketball, and we'd try to get even."

Darryl Watkins

You played against Brian Butch. What would you say he does well?

"He has a great outside touch. He shoots [well] and he has pretty good low-post moves."


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