BRENDAN KING | Staff Reporter
With the Butler men’s basketball team’s season completed, fans are looking to the future. Two recruits may give Bulldogs’ fans hope that the future is now.
Head Coach Brandon Miller has brought in two talented recruits for the 2014 season that have Bulldogs fans excited about the coming years in the Big East Conference.
Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman are two versatile power forwards that grew up and played nearly 260 miles away from each other. Martin is out of Louisville, Ky., and Wideman is from St. John, Ind.
Now, they will team together as part of the 2014 Butler men’s basketball recruiting class. The two will try to get Butler back on the right foot after a season where they finished last in the Big East.
Wideman and Martin are coming to Butler at a crucial time. The Bulldogs are losing 6’8 center Erik Fromm and 6’6 Forward Khyle Marshall to graduation this season. However, Wideman is 6’7 and Martin is 6’6. The coaching staff is hoping the newcomers can continue the legacy created by Fromm and Marshall.
“We expect big things from both Tyler and Kelan so that they can come in and adjust and learn to fit in with the team,” Miller said. “Both of them have high expectations on what their careers at Butler will be like.”
Miller said both Wideman and Martin have changed their playing styles over their last few years of high school.
“If you asked me what type of player Kelan was a couple of years ago, he really expanded his game,” Miller said. “He has a versatile game on the offensive end of the floor and has a body that can take you inside, play on the perimeter, handle and shoot the ball.”
“Tyler Wideman is a 260-pound big body who can really pass. He has a great feel to the game and can score around the basket because he is explosive,” Miller said. “He has expanded his game where he can make 15-foot jump shots and can guard bigger guys around the basket.
This growth appealed to Miller in a big way. He said Wideman and Martin are not just talented, but mature as well.
“It was not one thing that immediately was appealing,” Miller said. “Obviously, they are very talented and they fill a need to where we are at. But as you continue to learn about them, they are the type of guys that you want in your locker room.”
It was not just Miller that felt a connection with Wideman. Wideman said he also felt a connection with Butler and the coaching staff as a whole.
“I felt like Butler was the best school for me because it is close to home, so my family and friends can come see me play without it being hard,” Wideman said. “And I really like the coaching staff.”
Wideman could be taking on a large role immediately with the Bulldogs. Freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz may be the starting power forward next season. Wideman could then be his backup. Chrabascz said he is going to do as much as he can do help his new teammates adjust to college basketball.
“I expect myself to lead and teach everyone since we play similar positions,” Chrabascz said. “I will obviously be more helpful to him basketball-wise. As a player, I look forward to helping all my teammates mature and grow as players.”
Chrabascz led all Butler freshmen this season in minutes with 19 per game. He was selected to the all Big East rookie team for his performances after entering the starting lineup midway through the season, which gave Butler a boost.
However, before the new recruits get the chance to play on the Hinkle Fieldhouse court,
they still have the summer left to improve and perfect their skills. Miller said they each have their own separate skills that remain to be improved.
“Kelan has done a nice job of improving his body. He will continue to do that and continue to work on his overall game in all areas,” Miller said.
“Tyler is always continuing to improve. He has been working on developing the ability to work on the offensive end by scoring 15-to 17-foot jumpers,” Miller added. “Both guys have extremely good work ethics and will continue to improve before they arrive on campus.”
Wideman and Martin are each ranked three-star to four-star athletes, depending on the scouting service. As they continue to improve their skills before they arrive in Indianapolis, their star potential could continue to grow.
“Not only are they great players, but they are also amazing people,” Chrabascz said. “They will fit well with our team but, even more importantly, with the Butler community.”