After a thrashing by a rival, Butler basketball fans could use a bit of positive news right now, and Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens delivered some Wednesday.
The Bulldogs program added three new pieces to its future, and Stevens believes that the athletes are ready to contribute in a big way.
"One of the things that we've really tried to prioritize in the class of 2013 was recruiting kids with competitive maturity,” Stevens said in a release. “Guys who have won and guys who we think are mature beyond their years and will have an impact sooner, rather than later.”
After Butler's 62-47 defeat Tuesday at Xavier, the Butler coaching staff gave an indication of where this program is headed by securing three players from regions associated with the Bulldogs' new league (Atlantic 10).
Nolan Berry (St. Louis), Andrew Chrabascz (Portsmouth, R.I.) and Rene Castro (Worcester Academy in Massachusetts) signed letters of intent to play for the Bulldogs next season.
"We're thrilled to be adding Rene, Nolan and Andrew,” Stevens said. “We think they will continue in the long line of outstanding Butler student-athletes as members of our basketball program."
Berry is a skilled big man (6-foot-10) who has evolved into one of the top players in Missouri. As a junior, he was a first-team All-State player at DeSmet Jesuit High School and averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
"Nolan has a great understanding of the game," Stevens said. “He can dribble, pass and shoot it. He's very comfortable facing the basket, and you can run your offense through him, because of his passing ability and his understanding and savvy for the game."
Butler lacked toughness in its debacle Tuesday, but the 6-foot-7 Chrabascz should remedy that problem. He earned most valuable player honors at Cushing Academy last season after averaging 17 points and nine rebounds for a 20-win squad.
"Andrew is an unbelievable leader and is extremely well-respected among his peers and coaches at Cushing Academy," Stevens said. "He is very physical and very effective both inside and out. His competitiveness, skill and charisma are at a high level."
Butler will graduate one post player (Andrew Smith) and a pair of guards (Rotnei Clarke and Chase Stigall). Clarke is handling the point guard duties this season, and Castro could vie for time at that spot next season.
The 6-foot-2 Castro was the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior after averaging 23 points per game. His performance in the renowned BCD Holiday Hoops prep showcase caught the attention of many college scouts after he earned most valuable player honors at the event last season.
"Rene is a winner," Stevens said. "He's a guy who can affect a game in a number of different ways. He's a terrific ball-handler, passer and scorer. He's a very good leader, on and off the court, and a guy people want to be around. His energy and presence are contagious."