Butler lands ‘humble, versatile’ forward out of Michigan

First-year Butler University men's basketball coach LaVall Jordan speaks with the media prior to a practice session this summer at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)

INDIANAPOLIS – LaVall Jordan has only coached his new basketball team in one regular season game, but even prior to that 82-64 rout of Kennesaw State Friday, the first-year Butler University coach had a pretty good feel for his squad.

“Competitive and connected,” Jordan said recently of what his team’s early identity was.

If that is the case, then the newest Bulldog should blend in pretty well.

Butler will host Princeton today at 6 p.m. (CBSSN).

Jordan landed his first commitment of the 2018 recruiting class Saturday evening, as Godwin Heights (Mich.) senior forward Markeese Hastings committed to Butler.

“Markeese loves his teammates,” Godwin Heights coach Tyler Whittemore told News-Sentinel.com. “He wants to get everyone involved.”

Whittemore couldn’t say enough positive things about Hastings, who will be a “versatile” player for Whittemore’s Wolverines.

As a junior, the 6-foot-7 Hastings played multiple positions at both ends of the floor for a team that won 22 of its 24 games.

“He is very versatile,” Whittemore explained. “He’s 6-7 and can take it to the basket, but he can also shoot from outside.”

RELATED STORY:Butler shoots past Kennesaw State, 82-64, in LaVall Jordan’s debut

Hastings averaged 17 points per game, but his work ethic was really put on display as a rebounder. He averaged a dozen boards per game and Whittemore said that is a product of not just his effort, but his physical ability, as well.

“He is very strong,” Whittemore said. “He loves the gym and he loves to work out.”

It was interesting listening to Whittemore speak on his star player, who held several mid-major offers and is rated as a 2-star recruit by 247Sports. Many of the descriptive words that the Godwin Heights coach used regarding Hastings, Jordan also said about his team.

“They are a pretty serious group when it’s time to work,” Jordan said.

Whittemore said that Hastings shares that quality, as well.

“He is very humble,” Whittemore said, “kind of a quiet kid.”

But like a lot of Butler players – both past and present – are, Whittemore said that as good of an athlete as Hastings is, he is also that high quality of a person.

“(Academics) are something that he has prided himself in,” Whittemore said, “especially as he has matured. He gets along with all of the students and the faculty. It’s just a good relationship that he has built within the community.”

The Wolverines utilized Hastings both on the perimeter and in the past last year, but Whittemore said that defensively his versatility is even more important.

“He is able to guard many different positions,” Whittemore said. “We use him to guard the other team’s best player.”

Hastings’ wingspan is longer than his 6-foot-7 frame, so it’s possible that he could continue to grow. However, Whittemore said that it is unquestionable as to whether his game will continue to evolve.

“We are pretty positionless,” Whittemore said, “so he is a fun player to watch. He is just going to keep growing (as a player). His ceiling is so high with his work ethic and everything that he is going to be able to do.”

“Butler is a great program, a successful program. He sees himself growing and playing and hopefully contributing year in and year out.”

Butler has three scholarships remaining for the class of 2018, while the Bulldogs already have one commitment from the class of 2019 in Carmel High School junior John Michael Mulloy (6-foot-9, forward).

The Bulldogs will graduate two players next spring, center Tyler Wideman and forward Kelan Martin.

For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.


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