The Butler women’s basketball team typically has a challenge recruiting top athletes in a state known for its hoops history.
But this year has been different.
In addition to incoming freshmen, coach Beth Couture recently attained two transfers, 6-foot-3 freshman forward Elizabeth Stratman (Xavier) and 6-0 junior forward Daress McClung (Cincinnati), each of whom has already begun to train with the Bulldogs.
“We had strongly recruited both of them,” Couture said. “We followed Daress through high school, and we were first to offer Liz a scholarship her freshman year.”
Stratman averaged 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a four-year starter at Heritage Christian in New Palestine. She also helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back state championships in 2008 and 2009 and received All-State honors her senior year.
Stratman, whose father played football at Butler, participated in 12 games at Xavier this season, averaging 3.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest.
McClung, a Lawrence North graduate, averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per game during her junior season. In the same year, McClung was part of the state-winning Amateur Athletic Union Indiana Elite basketball team.
While at Cincinnati, McClung played in 26 games over two seasons. She averaged eight points per game in the team’s first four contests her sophomore year before missing the remainder of the season because of an ankle injury that required surgery.
In her only full season with the Bearcats, McClung started nine contests and averaged five points per game. She also recorded 22 steals and 17 blocks.
“[Daress and I] had played together since seventh grade,” Butler junior forward Liz Jennings said. “I know what she’s capable of, and that experience with a Big East team will bring a spark.
“She’s been doing well in practice and is already helping us improve each day.”
Jennings had positive things to say about Stratman as well.
“Liz came from a really good program at Heritage Christian,” Jennings said. “Her fundamentals alone will be a huge asset, and her knowledge of the game will definitely help us get to the next level.”
Through their own selection processes, McClung and Stratman chose Cincinnati and Xavier, respectively, only to end up back in Indianapolis.
“Daress had a commitment to go to Cincinnati,” Couture said, “but we had a relationship already with her, and she decided she wanted to come to Butler.”
Stratman was in the same position but changed her mind on where she wanted to be after one semester at Xavier.
“We were fortunate,” Couture said. “They just kind of ended up on our doorstep.”
McClung and Stratman won’t be able to play until next year due to NCAA compliance rules.
“I understand the rules, but it is frustrating,” Jennings said. “The good thing is that, since Liz transferred halfway through the school year, she’ll be eligible right before conference [play].”
Despite having to wait, Couture is optimistic about the transfers’ potential effect on the team.
“They will definitely help us,” Couture said. “They’re both such strong post players, and they’ve played against great competition.”