This past season the Butler men's basketball roster was comprised of players from seven states and an entirely different country (Australia). And that was when the Bulldogs were charter members of the Midwest-based Horizon League.
With Butler now officially a member of the more encompassing Atlantic 10 Conference, its recruiting target areas could be even more expansive. But Bulldog coach Brad Stevens hasn't lost sight of how this program was constructed.
“I think that it's going to be best if (our program) is deeply rooted in the Midwest,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “When you recruit nationally, you are going to recruit against their region and other teams that recruit nationally. One of the reasons that we've had success is that we've had very good players from here in the Midwest stay and play at Butler.”
College basketball programs do tend to keep recruits home more often than not, but increasingly, with the proliferation of media coverage of the sport, teams are no longer at a significant disadvantage if trying to sell themselves to prospects from far away. That is where the new affiliation with the A-10 should help the Bulldogs according to Stevens.
“Certainly the conference affiliation is a part of the decision (by recruits) in a lot of cases,” Stevens said. “I think that the exposure that goes along with the conference is also a lot of the decision. I'm looking forward to seeing how this move and the national perception of the A-10 translates into more exposure.”
Stevens has a recent history of tapping into the talent pipelines of Southern states such as Georgia, Alabama and Florida. With the Bulldogs now playing on a regular basis in the Eastern Seaboard markets of Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and New York, will there be an emphasis on scouring the East for new players?
“Time will tell on that,” Stevens said. “If we see someone we like that seems to be a good fit for us then certainly we will look at that. I do think that the response (to joining the A-10) has been positive from that part of the country, but really across the country it's all been positive.”
Going 'big' at Butler
Butler doesn't have an available scholarship for this coming season; however, reports indicate that Stevens has a big addition coming to the program soon.
The Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday that former Culver Military Academy center Cheir Ajou could be joining the program as a walk-on later this month.
The 7-foot-2 native of Sudan graduated from CMA in 2011 and spent this past season at St. Thomas More, a prep school in Connecticut.
He took an official visit to Butler last week, and his high school coach indicated that he should land in Indianapolis.
“More than likely, that's the direction it's headed,” Eagles coach Mark Galloway told The Star. “His workout and visit at Butler went really well. I'd love to see him there.
Ajou had originally signed with New Mexico during his senior season at CMA.
“(Butler coaches) would like to see him moved in and started with classes this summer,” Galloway said. “Things are looking pretty good.”
In recent weeks, News-Sentinel Sports Editor Tom Davis has interviewed basketball coaches at programs including Purdue, IPFW, Butler and Kansas State.
In addition, he spent time in Chicago last week covering the NBA Draft Combine, where he interviewed some of the top players in college basketball.
Visit News-Sentinel.com at 1:30 p.m. Friday to participate in a live chat with Davis regarding college basketball and recruiting.