Brian Butch: Flashback

As the UNC staff focuses its sole recruiting attention on Brian Butch, <i>IC</i> thought it'd be a good idea to bring back an article from Memorial Day Weekend, when Butch shined in Chapel Hill and immediately thereafter received a scholarship offer from UNC. This article, which would normally be premium, is being provided for free.

May 27, 2002

CHAPEL HILL -- Want to know why everyone is buzzing about Wisconsin center Brian Butch? For starters, the 7-0, 215-pounder from Appleton (Wisc.) West just may be the best scoring big man in the entire class of 2003.

This past weekend at the Bob Gibbons' Tournament of Champions, he certainly made a strong case for it ­ and he didn't do it against any cupcakes either.

He did it versus some elite big men.

Going head to head against 6-11 Darryl Watkins, 6-10 Jackie Butler, 6-8 Mike Williams and 6-10 Hassan Fofana ­ some major point totals were dropped. Butch solidified his status as a strong McDonalds All-American candidate for 2003.

And that isn't up for debate anymore --­ case closed.

On the floor, Butch can score and Butch can shoot. He will get his points no matter who's guarding him. And know one thing about Butch's attitude on the court -- he's ready to battle. No softie here folks. While he may not be the strongest guy out there ­ he'll fight and battle in the trenches. He'll go after rebounds and he isn't scared of contact at all.

"I'm used to that," he said after his battle against the 260-pound Butler. "They always try to get real physical with me in high school, so I'm pretty used to it. It doesn't really bother me any more at all. In fact, ­ I've come to expect it. "

Butler saw that the physical stuff didn't work and he tried some head games at well.

"That guy talks out there," chuckled Butch. "He talks some serious trash."

On the offensive end, Butch wants the ball. He posts up and is able to provide a huge target for his teammates on the low block. One he receives the ball, the Wisconsin center often turns quickly to face the basket. If the defender falls back in position ­ Butch simply takes what he has ­ which is the jumper. And he doesn't miss the mid range jumper very often. His touch is feathery soft. He releases it at the highest point and holds the ball high above his head. And check the backspin for superb rotation.

If the defender gets right up in his face, ­ he's got a few nice post moves that he regularly goes to. One of the most effective for him throughout the weekend was his up and under move.

"That's my bread and butter," he said. "I can shoot the ball pretty well most of the time."

He certainly can. This is evident by his awesome field goal percentage over the course of the weekend. He led the entire tournament in scoring over the weekend and was named to the 17 and under all tournament team. He probably led the event in field goal percentage as well ­ but unfortunately those statistics weren't recorded. And despite his lofty status and polished game -- the modest big fella still knows he's got some room for improvement.

"My strength and my weight," he quickly replied when questioned by what must have been eight reporters on Saturday. "I know those are my biggest weaknesses right now, but the coaches have seen that I have put on thirty pounds since last year and if I can put on about thirty more ­ that would be nice."

Even though he isn't going to throw folks around in the paint just yet, ­ he does have that assertiveness that is so often lacking in skilled big men. He plays hard and rotates quickly to play help-side defense and uses every bit of energy that he can muster on both ends of the court.

When questioned about a list of schools, ­ he rattles them off of his tongue like a kindergartner reciting the alphabet.

"Arizona, Kansas, UNC, Stanford, Tennessee, Marquette, Iowa and Wisconsin," he said. "That's pretty much my list of schools."

Most all of the above schools have offered, except the Tar Heels. But that could have changed as recently as Sunday.

Sources close to the UNC basketball program informed us that Butch was seen touring the campus with two of the members of the coaching staff on Sunday. It's a wise bet that a scholarship offer was made, but that has not been confirmed as of yet.

But don't think for a minute that Butch's status as an elite big man in the class of 2003 wasn't confirmed. Because it was. And just incase you need more confirmations on that particular issue ­ we've got some folks you can ask. Their names are Jackie Butler, Darryl Watkins, Mike Williams and Hassan Fofana.

For extensive coverage of Butch's recruitment, including photos, analysis, etc., IC premium subscribers can check out the Brian Butch profile.

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