Big Time: Butch plays through pain on Day 2

LAS VEGAS -- After thinking Wisconsin's Brian Butch would be done for the week, the 6-foot-11 big man came back from the grave Tuesday in the adidas Big Time Tournament.

While playing with obvious discomfort, Butch hit the game-winning shot against the LeBron James-less NE Ohio Shooting Stars to lead the Fox Valley Skillz Black to a 83-81 victory.

The lanky Butch appears to be a lock for the McDonald's All-American Game and is among the top 10 players in the 2003 class, so why play?

"I felt like I owed it to my teammates to at least try and play," Butch said. "If I try and play and I can't go, then I can't go."

Among the coaches checking out the action included North Carolina's Matt Doherty, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan and Arizona's Lute Olson, reportedly the three teams leading in Butch's recruiting race.

Butch said his back first gave him problems at the USA Youth Festival in Colorado Springs in late June.

"I went up on a play and got undercut a little bit," Butch said. "I didn't think it was anything but it started to nag me a little bit."

But he played through the injury at the Mr. Basketball Invitational in Kearney, Neb., where he was the MVP. However, he sat out the adidas ABCD Camp.

Butch said he's come a long way since his first traveling team tournament -- a Pumps tournament in September of 2000.

"I was so skinny that all I'd do was be around the free-throw line area and shoot jumpers," he recalled.

Two years later, he's challenging the likes of past Wisconsin prep stars such as former Tar Heel Joe Wolf and current UW-Green Bay and ex-North Carolina State swingman Marshall Williams as possibly the best the state has ever produced.

"Wisconsin isn't like New York or California or Illinois in that we have a lot of top players but we are getting there," Butch said.

Speaking of James: After getting his cast removed on Monday, "The Chosen One" wanted to rejoin his traveling. However, a force even stronger than Nike or adidas shot down the idea -- his mother.

Instead, James shot around with his teammates while decked out in a Pete Maravich Utah Jazz jersey with Nike sneakers on.

Awake at the wheel: After impressing Rick Majerus at his basketball camp in June, sleeper recruit Ryan Werch of Ripon, Wis., gave the Utah basketball coach an oral commitment on Monday. Werch, a sharp-shooting 3-point specialist, picked the Utes over University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Loyola University Chicago.

Werch, who plays for Randolph Boys Club White in the Big Time Tournament, rolled to 41- and- 42 point victories on Tuesday.

Loaded but beatable: Despite having a roster of Division I recruits, the Michigan Hurricanes went down Tuesday to Oakland Slam N Jam 80-71.

The impressive backcourt of stud point guard Ayinde Ubaka and powerful John Winston, plus the athleticism of junior wing Tim Pierce and post-grad Marquis Kately, has Oakland positioned to be a darkhorse for the Big Time championship, even without injured superstar Leon Powe.

Heard around the gym: After an up-and-down freshman year, Fresno State point guard Matt Mitchell is transferring to Southern Nevada Junior College. The Georgia native will play for Jerry Tarkanian's son, George… Tyler James of Milwaukee has been reclassified as a junior at Brewster Academy… His traveling teammate, Torre Johnson, is done for the summer after breaking bone in his wrist/arm… After getting a recent commitment from center Grant Billmeier, Seton Hall is looking for another inside player to beef up its frontline… Promising Alaskan big man Ray Schafer is out with an injury for BWBA Team Alaska… Jai Miller is easily good enough to play for several Conference USA colleges, but the Selma, Ala., point guard is even better in football… Point guard Mike Miller of the El Paso Suns has been difficult to stop all week.

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