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.
I was in Indianapolis for the Final Four the night Da’Sean Butler went down with a torn ACL in the national semifinals against Duke.
The image of Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins cradling Butler’s head in his arms as he consoled his injured star will last as one of the more touching scenes in college basketball history.
“He’s a wonderful, wonderful guy,” Huggins said that night. “When I went it was more he felt he let his team down than it was about the injury. And that’s DaSean. You know, that’s the way he is. He’s got such a great heart.”
I’ll never forget how Butler, a Newark, N.J. native who starred for coach Nick Mariniello at Bloomfield Tech, sat in front of his locker, crutches nearby, and patiently and openly talked with a swarm of reporters for about 30 minutes after West Virginia’s crushing loss to eventual NCAA champion Duke.
“I would do anything for those last 14 minutes back,” Butler said then.
At the time, the idea of the 6-foot-7 Butler getting drafted or signing with an NBA franchise seemed remote.
But two months after the injury, Butler was drafted 42nd overall by the Miami Heat and on Monday he signed a two-year contract with the same team that features LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Butler received partial financial guarantees for both years of the contract according to the Miami Herald.
“I’m happy for him,” Ira Puryear, Butler’s father, said Tuesday by phone. “I’m glad everything worked out the way he wanted it to.”
Butler will compete with guards Kenny Hasbrouck (partially guaranteed contract) and Patrick Beverley (fully-guaranteed two-year, $1.2 million contract) for the 15th and final roster spot, but he is not expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
“I’m not really sure [when he’ll be back],” Puryear said. “I just came back from Miami and he’s on pace the way they want him to be.”
Butler averaged 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 146 college games and his 2095 points at West Virginia were third-most in school history behind Jerry West and Rod Hundley.
When he initially went down with the injury, things looked bleakand all the air went out of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Four months later, Butler has a contract and a shot at making a potentially history-making team.
“Whenyou get injured, you think it’s the end of the road,” Puryear said. “But you gotta keep your faith in God, faith in who you are. If God has a plan you’ve got to let him do what he’s gonna do.
“Now [Butler] has a chance to actually try to complete the whole picture and make the team and everything.”
Mount Vernon guard Jabarie Hinds will have an in-home with West Virginia Sept. 15 and will take an official there Oct. 14-16…6-7 wing Shaq Thomas of NIA Prep will now visit UTEP Sept. 24 instead of Sept. 17…St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn said 6-10 star Andre Drummond will remain at the school until 2012 and won’t leave in 2011: “He’s going to be here two years [until 2012] and he has no [college] list,” Quinn said…Kazembe Abif, a 6-6 forward from Team NJABC and a post grad at Lawrenceville, has verbally committed to Drexel. “He has a tremendous motor, plays hard every possession, attacks the rim and is very physical on the boards,” Team NJABC coach Matt Pauls said. “He’s a tremendous rebounder but needs to work on his handle and attacking with his right hand.”…6-1 2012 guard DeAndre Noble transferred to Hudson (N.J.) CAtholic from Paterson Catholic. He is the last of the PC transfers…6-4 point guard Dennis Green, class of 2013, will transfer from St. Patrick to Winchendon, per his mentor, Steve Goldstein.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.