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Butler coach: No reason to panic over recruiting

INDIANAPOLIS – A quick glance of the 2016-17 statistics of the highly-successful Butler men’s basketball squad (the Bulldogs won 25 games and advanced to the Sweet 16) shows that the contingent of Kelan Martin, Tyler Lewis, Avery Woodson and Kethan Savage combined to score over 1,300 points.

Not only did each of those players contribute significantly to the Bulldogs’ success, but as of this date in their respective recruiting classes, none had pledged his services to play for the Bulldogs.

“With two signing periods,” first-year Butler coach LaVall Jordan told News-Sentinel.com recently, “and things that happen along the way, by the time we actually start next fall, a lot could happen in terms of prospects.”

Jordan’s point in saying that was a message to the Butler fan base, as well as the media, that the fact that Butler has no commitments currently for the 2018 recruiting class isn’t a massive concern.

“I wouldn’t say ‘I’m concerned,'” Jordan said when asked about the lack of commitments. “We’ve got some opportunities, but it’s all about getting the right guys and the right fit.”

Over the past couple months, a seemingly endless stream of prospects that Butler had scholarship offers extended to chose to go elsewhere. Such situations can cause angst among those that follow the Bulldogs. However, it hasn’t created any nervousness inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“I got good advice a long time ago as an assistant coach,” Jordan explained, “to never panic in recruiting. It is never about the guys that you don’t get, it is the ones that you get, that don’t fit, that hurt you.”

Butler fans know that all too well.

It was just four seasons ago that the Butler Nation endured a frustrating 14-17 season as the Bulldogs transitioned into the Big East and four of the 14 players on the roster transferred out of the program.

“Butler has a (specific) fit,” Jordan explained, “and the guys that we’ve been good with, are the ones that fit.”

This year’s roster includes a pair of late commitments in guards Aaron Thompson and Paul Jorgensen, neither of which committed to the Bulldogs until May of their respective recruiting years. In the case of Jorgensen, Savage, Woodson, and Lewis, each of those players transferred to Butler, which could be a scenario that is followed yet again next spring.

“Recruiting has changed,” Jordan said. “The transfer market has been good to Butler since I was a player (1998-2001) actually.”

As Jordan has navigated the alumni circuit this off-season to get reacquainted with familiar faces from his past, he hasn’t been flooded with questions of concern from the Bulldog graduates, but he has been questioned as to the level of recruits that will choose Butler.

“The question that I’ve gotten the most is,” Jordan laughed, ‘Are we going to go after the same guys that we’ve gone after? Or because of some of the recent success and the national interest, will we go after some of the higher rated players?’

“My response is ‘Do you think that we didn’t have good enough players before with the guys that got us there?'”

The recruiting formula that has proven to be successful for nearly three decades isn’t going to be altered by Jordan and his new staff. He knows what attracted himself to the university as a teen and he knows what still can interest talented student-athletes today.

“It’s more about what we have,” Jordan said. “The student body, in terms of the numbers, a private school, we’re in a city, not in a college town, we talk about what we have to offer.

“That is attractive to some and not attractive to others. That is OK because there are 360 Division I schools. We are one of them and we have our strengths and our ways. We just highlight that.”

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