Bulldogs add transfer, sign Holtmann long term

KYLE BEERY | SPORTS EDITOR | kbeery@butler.edu

The season has come to an end for the Butler men’s basketball team, but the action has not.

Butler signed a contract extension Monday with head coach Chris Holtmann to keep him at the helm of the program through the 2020-2021 season.

Holtmann led the Bulldogs to a 23-11 season that ended with a 67-64 overtime loss at the hands of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

He became the head coach Jan. 2 after serving as the interim head coach when Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence just before preseason practices began in October.

Holtmann said Butler feels like the right place—not only from a basketball standpoint, but for his family as well.

“As I have said from day one, it fits me, it fits our family and I love the people I get a chance to work with every day,” he said. “I think that is what makes it a special place to work at and to be at.”

Gathers joins Bulldogs

Holtmann is left to replace senior starters Alex Barlow and Kameron Woods in his first full season as head coach.

The Bulldogs added a piece to the puzzle Sunday when former St. Bonaventure University guard Jordan Gathers announced he was transferring to Butler.

Gathers graduated early last December and will be immediately eligible for the Bulldogs after sitting out the season with a hip injury.

“It is an amazing feeling,” Gathers said. “It’s been a long time coming ever since I graduated in December and just going through the recruiting process.”

Gathers, who averaged 8.2 points per game during his junior season with the Bonnies, said he did not get accepted into graduate school at St. Bonaventure, leaving him to transfer to a school where he would be able to play under the NCAA’s grad school transfer rule.

“It all unfolded when I wasn’t able to get into graduate school at Bonaventure,” he said. “We just kind of  went our separate ways and it went from there. I earned my degree and I figured, ‘Hey, I still have another year of eligibility to play and I kind of got into the recruiting process once I left campus.’”

Under NCAA rules Holtmann is unable to comment on Gathers until he officially enrolls and pays a deposit, but he said he looks forward to the new season under a new contract.

“Obviously we were able to win this year,” Holtmann said. “We didn’t win them all, but we won a lot of them, and that makes it fun to be able to do it with the quality of people that we get to do this with on a day-in, day-out basis.”

Butler leaning on transfers

Austin Etherington was eligible to play immediately this past season after transferring from Indiana University under similar circumstances.

On top of Gathers and two incoming freshman — Nate Fowler and Sean McDermott — the Bulldogs will see another new face next season. Point guard Tyler Lewis will be eligible to play after sitting out a season after transferring from North Carolina State University.

The combination of Gathers and Lewis creates depth, especially at guard, for the Bulldogs, something the Bulldogs lacked this season. The only guard that came off the bench to play in all 34 games this season was freshman Kelan Martin.

Martin will likely continue to be a sixth man along with Gathers, as the projected starting guards will be Lewis, Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham.

Gathers said he sees himself having a few different roles with the Bulldogs.

“I would definitely say I’m a leader, but I’m a team guy,” Gathers said. “I’m a guy that can score and also pass and I just do a little bit of everything out on the court.”

He said he looks at himself as an all-around player.

“I will help get stops defensively or help offensively, anything to help my team win,” he said. “I’m a fierce competitor, so whatever role I need to partake in for the team, I’m willing to do that.”

Dunham said he is excited for what lies ahead in his senior season.

“We’re looking forward to playing for [Holtmann] again with all the success we had this year and the personal relationships that we’ve built with him,” he said.

(Photo courtesy of butlersports.com) NC State transfer Tyler Lewis will be eligible to play for Butler in the fall.

(Photo courtesy of butlersports.com)
NC State transfer Tyler Lewis will be eligible to play for Butler in the fall.

Dunham said Lewis will be a key player for the Bulldogs after spending a year on the practice scout team.

“I know Tyler is going to contribute so much to us because I have seen what he’s got on the practice squad, and he is always giving us hard work and helping us,” he said.

“Butler has done a great job of recruiting for the last few years I have been here,” Dunham said, “I think Jordan will be a great addition as well, even though I haven’t seen him play yet. I’m excited for him to come here.”