As Jamar Butler prepares to make the switch from shooting guard back to point guard this season, his absence from open gyms and preseason workouts has many Ohio State basketball fans talking.
Buckeye fans shouldn't worry, though. On a team with six newcomers, the lone returning starter from last year's squad is ready to run the offense and ready to lead the team.
"My role this year is just to try to lead these young guys again," Butler told BuckeyeSports.com. "We have another young team coming in. I'm back at the (point guard) spot again with the ball in my hands, and I have to run the team."
It's not like Butler is unfamiliar with the point guard position. He only made the switch to shooting guard last season to make room for Mike Conley Jr. and is confident that the transition back to the point will be a smooth one.
"That's my natural position," Butler said. "That's the position I played my whole life and to get back at that spot, I'm happy and can't wait to get started."
Butler's experience running the point was one of the reasons he was comfortable skipping the open gym workouts. In preparation for his final collegiate season, Butler wanted to manage his own offseason schedule.
"I had to get away for a little bit," he said. "I took a summer off. I've been here for three years doing the same routine over and over again, and it was time for me to get away and do my own thing for the summer."
Despite not attending the open gyms, he expects a noticeable improvement in his offense this season given his comfort level with playing the point.
"Last year, it was hard for me to find ways to score," he said. "I didn't know how to move without the ball to put myself in position to score. From the one spot, I know how to come off screens, create things and put myself in position to score."
The numbers seem to agree with Butler. While running the point during his sophomore season, he averaged a career-high 10.1 points and 4.6 assists per game while connecting on 44.0 percent of his shot attempts. Playing off-guard last season, Butler averaged 8.5 points and 3.6 assists per game and shot just 39.4 percent from the floor.
While Butler expects to be more comfortable on the offensive end, his top priority is the success of the Buckeyes – at least until after the season.
"I don't have any personal goals," he said. "There are team goals and that's to win another Big Ten championship and get back to the Final Four. It would be nice to get drafted, too."
The success of this year's team will depend on how quickly the returning players can adjust to their new roles and how effective the new players can be. Butler said he has been working with all the players to help speed up the process and believes the team will be firing on all cylinders in time for the 2007-08 season opener.
"This team is close already and we haven't even started practice yet," he said. "Just from being around each other every day lifting and in open gyms playing every day – it's a really nice team, and I can't wait to play with these guys."
How confident is Butler in this year's team? Just ask him for his prediction for this season.
"I see us in San Antonio," he said. "Back at the Final Four."
Butler Ready To Return To Point Guard
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