TOM DAVIS: Regardless of (ongoing) criticism, I stand by my thoughts regarding Butler prospect

A Butler cheerleader carries a flag before a Bulldog game against Xavier at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis during a recent season. (By The Associated Press)

The first reverberations from a Butler basketball-related column I wrote late Monday came within minutes of posting it at News-Sentinel.com.

The feedback, some good, but most critical, continued while I was in the shower this morning, through my drive to a Notre Dame football press conference, and into the afternoon.

I need to emphasize that I have nothing to gain as it pertains to where North Carolina high school guard Jamarius Burton chooses to play college basketball. Nothing whatsoever.

Yes, I have connections to Butler University, but the Bulldogs have played for everything from national championships to the CBI and never has my compensation been positively or negatively impacted by those seasons.

Here were the two specific points to my earlier column regarding Burton and his college decision:

• Butler does not need Burton as a significant part of its roster NEXT season and if he signs with the Bulldogs it would be beneficial for him to redshirt. And…

• His selection between Butler and Wichita State leads me to believe that his decision is being made primarily based on basketball due to the stark differences in the two institutions.

Despite the continued wrath, I stand by those two points.

I don’t write for sensationalism. If I write something, I believe it. That doesn’t mean that I am unequivocally accurate in my opinions, but make no mistake, my thoughts are genuine.

Let’s dissect the two points further for clarity purposes.

As it relates to the first, I don’t believe that it is imperative that Butler has Burton on the floor next season.

The Bulldogs have eight perimeter players to fill four positions and seven of those have experience playing at a high level of college basketball. If Burton signs with Butler, he would serve as a ninth candidate battling for minutes.

Now, is that a guarantee that he does not play? Certainly not.

It is possible that Burton earns minutes by beating out several more experienced players, but I would find that surprising. If a player is good enough to do that, yet still available on April 17, it would be a rarity. However, I do know for a fact that if Burton did so, he would get minutes.

Bulldog coach LaVall Jordan wasn’t hired to lose games and if Burton can help Butler win games, he’ll be on the floor.

In addition, I believe that he would benefit in every way possible by redshirting if indeed he does not come in and beat out several players that possess more experience.

Young athletes often scoff at the notion of redshirting, but I am not concerned with his immediate gratification, I am writing from the perspective of the benefit of Burton.

Let me pose this question: Would Burton be better prepared for a successful career athletically at ANY institution with:

A. 5 months preparation

B. 17 months preparation

Let me pose another: Would Burton be more developed intellectually and prepared for a successful post-basketball career with:

A. A Bachelor’s degree

B. A Bachelor’s degree AND a Master’s degree

Anyone concerned with Burton’s development as an individual and student-athlete will answer “B” to both questions.

To the second point, again, I offer no apologies.

Choosing a college is arguably the most impactful and critical decision a teen has made up to this point in his/her life and it truly has permanent ramifications, so it should not be done lightly. Nor should it be based on the one factor (athletics) that holds no long-term relevancy.

In Burton’s deciding between Butler (which he visited over the weekend) and Wichita State (where he currently is) demonstrates to me that basketball is the overriding factor in his decision and, as I wrote Monday, is very short-sighted on his part.

Both the Shockers and Bulldogs will provide a first-rate athletic experience in every way. Burton will win a lot of games with both programs and he’ll enjoy training in facilities that have launched professional careers of many athletes.

Aside from the fact that the Big East Conference is significantly higher ranked (second) than the American Athletic Conference (seventh), there isn’t a huge difference between the two choices.

On the court.

However, off of it, the differences are numerous and substantial.

Butler is the more well-regarded academic institution (see U.S. News and World Report’s latest rankings) and within the men’s basketball program more diligence is put forth in that regard.

In the latest 10-year statistics posted by the NCAA, the Bulldog men’s basketball program hasn’t had a GSR (Graduation Success Rate) lower than 80 percent and has been above 90 five times, including a perfect 100 percent for the final year in the study.

The same can’t be said for the Shockers.

In the same time period, Wichita State has been below 75 percent seven times (including a low rate of 50) and recorded a 64 in the final season of the tabulation.

In closing, I’m not going to alter my stance on these two points regarding Burton’s recruitment despite any criticism (which has come from both sides) and I’m certainly not going to change my willingness to write my opinion.

If you want to read articles with unquestioned loyalty and favoritism toward your beloved squad, then I am – at times – going to disappoint you. I am who I am.

Best of luck to Burton wherever he chooses to attend college and my advice is to do so with very, very careful consideration for a lot of impactful areas which will provide the best, most well-rounded experience.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Tom Davis at Tdavis@news-sentinel.com.

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