Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Despite Coaching Change, Butler Still In Trey Lyles Sweepstakes
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — New Butler coach Brandon Miller stood front and center at the end of the court to watch Trey Lyles last week at the Peach Jam.
Miller had only been the Bulldogs coach for four days once the Peach Jam started, but he knew he had to make the 6-foot-8 Lyles a priority.
College coaches are not permitted to comment on recruitable student-athletes, but speaking generally Miller told SNY.tv:
“The guys that we were recruiting before the announcement was made on [July 6] that I was the head coach are the majority of the same guys that we’re still recruiting,” Miller told SNY.tv.
“The direction that we were headed is the same direction, so to get out in front of those guys and watch those guys play, for those guys to see me, it’s important for any head coach to do that. And it’s important for these next three periods in July.”
Lyles, out of Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, cut his list to a Top 4 during the Peach Jam, and Butler made the cut.
That’s the good news.
The bad news for Miller is that’s now competing exclusively against Kentucky coach John Calipari, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Florida coach Billy Donovan for Lyles’ services.
All three have won at least one NCAA championship.
“I was disappointed to see coach [Brad] Stevens go, but they’ve got a great coach coming in,” Lyles told CBSSports.com. “They’re still close to home and I still like them, so they’re still one of my top schools.”
Still, the conventional wisdom is that Lyles will land at either defending NCAA champ Louisville or 2012 NCAA champ Kentucky.
Jerry Meyer of 247Sports.com has projected that Lyles will land at Kentucky, but don’t count out Louisville, either.
“Kentucky has younger players and gets guys to the league faster, but Louisville might develop their players a little bit better,” Lyles told CBSSports.com.
If Butler somehow lands Lyles, it would be a huge recruiting coup for Miller, who takes over a program headed into the new Big East and that will be entering its third league in three years.
If not, he must press on and continue to try and recruit at the highest levels to compete against the likes of Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Providence, St. John’s and the other schools.
Miller is also busy preparing his current players for a trip to Australia Aug. 3. That involves 10 practices in July.
“We’re going into a new league but at the same time it’s a fun time,” Miller said. “It’s a great time to be at Butler.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.