BRENDAN KING | Staff Reporter
Butler men’s basketball incoming transfer Tyler Lewis, who played at North Carolina State last season, said he is eager to reverse the Bulldogs’ fortunes.
Butler’s first season in the Big East Conference was a tumultuous one, even after the last game ended. Six players have left the team since November, and the Bulldogs finished ninth in conference play.
Lewis is from Statesville, N.C. Before he ever thought about playing college basketball, he was first learning about the game from his family.
“I started playing when I was about three years old,” Lewis said. “My dad and brother were always playing basketball, and I always wanted to be like them.”
He played high school basketball at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
There, he played at the same high school where National Basketball Association superstars such as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony once played.
Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith has led Oak Hill for 29 years. Lewis said being able to play at Oak Hill and for Smith had a great effect on his career.
“He’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Lewis said. “He taught me a lot, and it was tremendous experience to play there with its great history.”
In Lewis’ senior year at Oak Hill, he was named the 2012 Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year and was also named a McDonald’s All-American. He led the Warriors to an undefeated 44-0 record and averaged 12 points per game.
Lewis first committed to N.C. State and head coach Sidney Lowe. Lowe resigned as head coach in 2011.
Lewis said he was going to stay at N.C. State, but the new environment was not what Lewis said he wanted.
“(N.C. State) recruited me very hard my eighth and ninth grade years, but then Lowe resigned,” Lewis said. “I went in with the different coaching staff and it was hard to get used to.”
Lewis decided to change schools from N.C. State, and his first visit was to Butler. He announced his decision to transfer soon after his visit.
“I just loved the environment they had,” Lewis said. “The coaches were great on my visit, and I feel like they truly want me to be here.”
Lewis said he felt a great connection to Butler, and decided to become a Bulldog halfway through his visit.
“I was at Butler for about two and a half days, but after a day and a half, I realized it was the school for me,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he will be able to play his style of basketball at Butler. He said he has a high basketball IQ, likes to get all players on his team involved and is a true leader.
Due to transfer rules, Lewis will have to sit out this upcoming year but then will have two years of eligibility.
His new teammates are eager to see how he can perform in the Big East. Freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz said having experience playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference will help Lewis in the Big East.
“He has the maturity of a basketball player playing against great competition and will be ready from the start once he can play in the Big East,” Chrabascz said.
Lewis said he could not pass up the opportunity to play in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Lewis said. “Obviously, I wish it could be next year, but I am very excited and I can’t wait to play there.”