Brian Butch: An Inside Look

After <I>IC</I> ran an exclusive, in-depth article on David Padgett last month that was so well received by our readers, we've decided to do it again. Therefore, back by popular demand, <I>Inside Carolina</I> now presents an inside look at the recruitment of Brian Butch.

Brian Butch is finally nearing the end of his decision-making process. By the end of this month, the coveted post player from Appleton, Wisconsin is expected to whittle away the final schools on his list – a list that reached double digits when the nation's high majors first saw a year ago how rapidly his game was maturing.

In April, Butch compiled a list of nine schools. It dropped to eight at the start of the summer, and then in early August was reduced to five (Wisconsin, Marquette, Arizona, North Carolina and Kansas).

Last week it shrank to a mere four schools, as Arizona removed themselves from the running by taking a sleeper prospect.

"I think [Butch]'ll end up going to Wisconsin," said a source close to the Arizona basketball office. "It'll be just too hard to get him out of the state. That's my gut feeling."

And that opinion in Tucson is echoed elsewhere.

"Wisconsin has got to be the favorite," noted Eric Bossi, of Prep Stars.

Within his home state, Butch is receiving significant pressure to play for the Badgers – and the UW fan base is confident, whereas the other in-state school, Marquette, is not.

"All the Badger fans think he's going to Madison," said Wisconsin AAU coach Tommy Zaffran. "Marquette fans seem split between UW and UNC. I think his high school and summer coaches are pushing him to the UW."

While various analysts and gurus have wavered over the past six months, Dave Telep, of, has argued all along that North Carolina is in a favorable position.

"Obviously Wisconsin is going to get a real hard look, but I still think North Carolina remains a strong player," he said. "There's been no reason not to think that. I like their chances. They have a great shot and I've always maintained that."

PrepStars' Rob Harrington agreed, explaining that Butch's recruitment differs from previous battles with an in-state program (such as Brad Buckman) in that the Tar Heels are aided by Butch's preexisting view of UNC.

"The difference is Butch is a lifelong Carolina fan," Harrington said. "He's had an affinity for the school coming into his recruitment. Butch is a fan of UNC."

"But you have to be wary of the hometown school in situations like this," Harrington continued. "All the talk in Chapel Hill is positive, saying Carolina leads and such, but I wouldn't go that far."

Well, maybe not all the talk is positive, but the UNC basketball office has been cautiously confident for some time.

"To tell you the truth -- we feel good about him," said a source close to the North Carolina basketball program. "But you never know with these kids. When you're 17 years old it's possible to wake up in the morning and change who you like. But we've always felt like we were right up there with Wisconsin."

What most everyone can agree upon, however, is that Wisconsin and North Carolina appear to stand above Marquette and Kansas.

"Wisconsin and North Carolina -- I will be surprised if it isn't one of those two," Harrington said.

Telep concurred, "Right now it'd be difficult to see him going anywhere but UNC or Wisconsin."

However, Bossi, who is based in Kansas City, said not to write off the Jayhawks just yet.

"Those close to the KU program think Kansas has a better chance than people are giving them credit for," he said.

But Kansas has been making a strong push for Josh Boone, a late-bloomer of a power forward, which is perhaps a sign that the KU staff is not so confident of their odds at landing Butch.

"It's a telling sign to me," Bossi admitted.

And so as the decision nears, the rampant speculation persists. Message board posters and gurus alike take their stabs -- but in the end no one really knows -- and they won't know until the announcement is made in the coming days.

With that announcement on the horizon, Wisconsin-based prep writer, Jacey Zembal provided a unique perspective on this unique recruitment.

"One of the interesting aspects of Butch's recruitment is how he's not in a big rush like so many other players," said the former FoxSports high school editor. "In an age where kids pick schools sight-unseen and don't have a good feel for the coaches and players and how they fit in, Butch is the opposite.

"At any point during his junior year, he could have taken the easy route and committed to Wisconsin (or even Marquette) because he had most of the information he needed. However, he has let the process play itself out and he's good enough to make colleges wait. He still might end up staying home. But maybe there is more mystery at the other colleges (UNC in particular) whereas at Wisconsin, the fit would be too smooth. We'll find out next week."

But considering how close to the vest Butch has kept his recruitment thus far, the decision could conceivably come tomorrow, next week – or even next month.

Related Links:
* IC's Brian Butch profile
* TheInsiders' Butch database profile

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