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State of the Program: Butler Bulldogs

Now feels as good as any time to talk about the future of Butler basketball as we enter the heart of transfer portal season. Butler has been in contact with so many guys, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of. Hopefully, without any new departing transfer announcements imminent, we can take a step back and talk about the outlook for the program, in both the short and long term.

I spent a large portion of last season talking about there being a lot of transfers. It was inevitable after the last few seasons. The main headlines here are the departures of Chuck Harris and Jayden Taylor.

Those guys played really big minutes and had legit roles on this team. Taylor was the leading scorer this season, Harris led the team in scoring in the past two. These guys were the embodiment of Butler basketball these past few years and it sucks to see them go.

Also, the Manny Bates decision still looms over the program. That could really go either way, there’s a lot we don’t know there. I wouldn't expect an imminent announcement here, I'd expect him to get feedback and take his time with this decision, as he should.

It’s not going to be easy to replace guys of their stature, but the coaching staff is working on it. There is a ton of talent in the transfer portal (still growing, too), so it’s possible, but it won’t be easy. Coach Matta now has a full offseason to get his guys on the team, let’s see what he can do.

They’ve gone after a ton of guys. Just to highlight a couple, here are the ones we know they’ve had visits with (please let me know if I’m missing anyone):

Nicholas Timberlake (Rumored UNC lean)

John Hughley (zoom call)

Andre Screen (officially visited campus, 7'0" big from Bucknell)

Paxson Wojcik (UNC commit)

Darren Buchanan Jr.

Jamison Battle

Joe Girard

I don’t know how many of these guys are program changers on day one, but it’s about getting a team in though. A good group of guys, that's what Butler really needs, in my opinion. Butler isn’t the school to pull in elite-level transfers/five-star talents (though Flory would be awesome). Butler has always been a team that has a system and they get guys who fit said system, and those guys typically stayed all four years. Much more of the old-school, traditional way to run a program. Let's see what how this staff looks to run their program.

I’m going to do everything I can to follow the transfer portal as closely as I can, so if you have any questions (any team, though I will be most focused on Butler/Georgetown), don’t hesitate to tweet at me! I’ll do my best to get back to everyone!

But also, a HUGE shoutout to DawgsBy_90 for this transfer portal tracker, it’s so clutch and very appreciated.

Personal Opinions on Butler, Long Term:

If I’m being honest, I didn’t love the body language on the sideline from just about everyone. There was very little energy, and every Big East game just felt like they were going through the motions, except the Xavier game. The game plans were a bit off, too, I thought. If you want to argue this is very nitpicky, you're right, but just some of my thoughts.

But, to take a step back and look at the larger Big East landscape as a whole, it’s imperative for Butler to show they belong. The landscape of the league is changing. Two of the league's powerhouse programs have recommitted themselves to winning. They’ve reinvested in their program's success. Pitino is going to win. That’s a guarantee. And Cooley with more resources, better recruiting, and potentially better talent? I won’t bet against it.

Georgetown and St. John’s have new energy. They can finally get to the level the nation expected them to in the “New” Big East. These programs are coming back for their success, in some of the biggest basketball markets in the world. It’s so much better for the league, more attention will be garnered, but also a tier gap will be set. The new status quo is about to be determined.

And after this season, do we expect Marquette to get worse? They didn’t have a senior. What about Creighton? Is Shaheen Holloway not going to improve after a difficult Year One? Is Villanova going to be better when healthier? Does everyone return for Xavier? How does UConn move forward after this season? Is anyone getting any worse than they were this season?

The league is going to be excellent next year. I don’t expect that to change in the near future. The league is better when these powerhouse programs are better. It gets more eyes on the league, more recruits wanting to play in the league and everything that goes with that. But, if the league is in this transitional phase, can Butler afford another rough, no-postseason year? Maybe, but what about two?

That’s why I think this offseason is so important. The brands of this league are rebuilding. St. John’s and Georgetown have been at the bottom of the “New” Big East for almost its entire run. That’s changing. This means that Butler has to make sure that they don’t get left behind.

If you have faith in Coach Matta, this is the season. Butler has to be aggressive and land talent in the portal. Hopefully, this sparks new energy in this program, some new life, because it’s needed.

Year One is a building block, and in this case, it was a learning season. This is the only mulligan I'm giving them, though. It showed the program needs new energy, and it wasn’t going to be fixed overnight. But now, you can't afford multiple losing seasons, and you can't afford to be consistently in the basement.

Hopefully, they can win some of these transfer/recruiting battles and show that Butler is here to play.

This came out as I was finishing up this piece, best of luck to Coach Kuwik!

P.S. Rumor Mill:

Credit to those of you who got this far, Butler had a prospect on campus on Monday, and I’m not 100% certain who it is, but rumors are that it’s Augusto Cassia (full name Augusto Angelo Cruz de Oliveira Cassia), from the NBA Academy program.

It’s very hard to find tape on him, but from everything I’ve been able to find, he’s very similar to Pierce Thomas. Very high-level athlete, a decent jump shot with room to grow ( everything I saw was from two years ago, so he’s definitely improved in that time). I haven’t heard anything on Cassia’s recruitment at all, as international prospect recruiting is usually much quieter. We’ll see how this unfolds.

Here's just about everything I was able to find on Cassia:


I thought this was pretty cool


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