The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 12, 2010

Huggins: Butler a ‘special’ player

MORGANTOWN — Coach Bob Huggins paid tall tribute to West Virginia University star Da’Sean Butler.

“He’s a very special guy,” he said before taking the Mountaineers to New York for the Big East men’s basketball tournament.

“Da’Sean is a heck of a player. I think he is one of the best players to ever play here. He also, I think, is one of the best people.

“He does a great job in the classroom, where he’s very conscientious.”

In leading WVU to a 24-6 record for the regular season and Top 10 ranking, Butler averaged a team-best 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He also had 54 3-point goals, made 132 of 172 free throws (76.7 percent), 99 assists, 25 steals and 10 blocked shots.

Butler is third on the school’s all-time career scoring list with 1,957 points. Only the legendary Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley have more.

“You’re talking about a guy who has, on several occasions, gone to grade schools and talked for 45 minutes to students or to other functions to chat with a lot of kids,” Huggins said.

“Then he’d come back and practice or go to class or work out. It’s not easy.

“Da’Sean is a very special guy. He’s fun to be around.”

One of six players on the All-Big East first team, he’s a favorite of reporters as well as teammates. He has developed into a well-rounded performer during his years as a Mountaineer.

“He has been tremendous in the three years I’ve been here,” Huggins said. Butler came off the bench as a freshman, serving as WVU’s No. 6 man in John Beilein’s last year as head coach here.

Despite not starting a single game that season, Butler appeared in all 35 games and averaged 10.1 points per game. So he’s among the few WVU players who have averaged double digits in scoring all four years.

“That certainly is unusual,” Huggins noted. “It’s unusual to play for John (Beilein) as a freshman because John’s offense is so complicated.

“And as quickly as Butler picked it up, I think it shows his aptitude for basketball.”

Butler believes he has learned enough versatility from both Beilein and Huggins to prepare for a shot in the National Basketball Association draft.

“I’m just happy I’ve been here for four years,” he said. “I have learned a lot about basketball. I’m glad I’ve been successful here.

“Yes, I believe that I’ve gotten good preparation for that should help me on the next level. I have really enjoyed playing basketball for West Virginia.”

Butler, who has put on 30 pounds since enrolling at WVU, has played at both forward and guard. He’s an outstanding shooter and fine rebounder. He also excels on defense.

His career highs include 43 points vs. Villanova last year, 49 minutes played at Pitt Feb. 12, 14 rebounds vs. Davidson last year, six assists four times, six steals vs. Elon in 2008 and 12 field goals made vs. Villanova.

Butler was voted MVP of the 76 Classic, which the Mountaineers won in December at Anaheim, Calif.

He was named Big East Player of the week at least twice this season. He also was MVP of the Capital Classic in Charleston.

He tallied a season-high 33 points against St. John’s, including a perfect 7-of-7 from 3-point range this year. His long-range accuracy tied a Big East record. He has scores 10 or more points in 101 career games.

Last summer, Butler helped the USA win the World University Games in Serbia. He averaged 8.6 points per game.

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