Men’s basketball: Recruits add to the Butler tradition

Recruiting high school basketball players is the lifeblood of the Butler men’s basketball team. Coach Brad Stevens and his staff recruit players who can help extend the team’s success.

Next season’s recruiting class includes four players.

Shooting guard Rene Castro and power forwards Nolan Berry and Andrew Chrabascz have signed their letters of intent to attend Butler and play basketball for the 2013-14 academic year.

Shooting guard Elijah Brown has verbally committed to Butler but has not signed his letter of intent.

Stevens and his staff have certain criteria recruits need to meet.

“There is a minimal level of basketball talent ability that they obviously have to have to be considered,” Stevens said. “Those abilities and what you are looking for can sometimes vary by position.”

Stevens said it is not all about trying to recruit the highest-ranked talent.

“The best team I have ever coached maybe had one guy who was included in one top-100 list,” Stevens said. “I don’t think it means a lot what people say about you in high school. I think it is how you perform once you are out of high school.”

Assistant coach Michael Lewis said recruits also need to have certain characteristics that not only fit the team’s expectations on the court, but also in the classroom.

“We look at what kind of student they are,” Lewis said, “and really look at how they achieve. We like high achievers.”

Additionally Butler basketball is always looking for recruits who can fill in the team’s needs.

“As we finish the year, we are evaluating from a standpoint of who we know we have coming in and what we have currently on our roster,” Lewis said. “That’s how we move forward on our spring recruiting and into the summer.”

Compared to the recruiting classes of 2011 and 2012, all the players in this year’s class who have signed or verbally committed have attended high schools outside Indiana.

The players in the 2013 recruiting class come from a number of different U.S. regions.

Castro and Chrabascz come from the Northeast. Castro is from  Milton, Mass., and went to Worcester Academy. Chrabascz is from Portsmouth, R.I., and attended Cushing Academy.

Berry comes from the Midwest, born in St. Louis. He attended De Smet Jesuit High School.

Brown comes from the West Coast. Born in Sanata Ana, Calif., he attended Mater Dei High School.

“Obviously, this university and especially its basketball program have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years,” Lewis said. “With the success of the basketball program and the notoriety that is on a national and an even global level, our recruiting has expanded compared to what it was 10 years ago.”

Although the team may recruit in different regions, both Stevens and Lewis said it is important to recruit high school players from Indiana because there are some very skilled players in Butler’s backyard.

“The state of Indiana is a great state to recruit from,” Stevens said. “There are a lot of schools down here.”

To keep players in Indiana, Butler must find ways to entice Indiana high school players. Both Stevens and Lewis said Butler’s tradition is one way to do this.

The Hinkle Fieldhouse renovations could also be another way to attract  high school recruits.

“We are in the middle of a major renovation of an 85-year-old building,” Lewis said. “This is a great facility, but the university is making a commitment to improve the whole experience and doing a lot for the student-athlete.”

Stevens said Butler’s moves to new conferences can be a tool used to recruit players in different regions.

“Certainly with our move to the Atlantic 10 last year and the Big East this year, there are increased chances to be able to get in the doors,” Stevens said.

Even with the change in conferences, Butler basketball will try not to change the way it recruits.

“We don’t want to get away from the type of person we recruit here,” Lewis said. “Because those are the guys who have been successful.”

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