Thursday, February 28, 2002

Lima soph feels UC's place to be

Butler orally commits to Bearcats

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jamar Butler is only a sophomore at Lima Shawnee High School. But he knows he wants to play college basketball in Ohio, and he has been a University of Cincinnati fan since the days of Nick Van Exel.

        It's as simple as that. The 6-foot-2 point guard said he has orally committed to attend UC in the fall of 2004.

        “I looked around at other colleges like Ohio State and Dayton,” Butler said. “I looked at Xavier. I just felt like Cincinnati was the best place for me. I like the coaches. They're good guys. I just like Cincinnati and wanted to make my decision.”

        Butler, who is planning to attend Sunday's game against Memphis at Shoemaker Center, averages 30 points and already has accumulated 1,033 in his two-year high school career. He had a career-high 44 points against Defiance in early January on a night when he had the flu.

        Clark Francis of HoopScoop rates Butler as the No.2 sophomore in Ohio and in the top 50 nationally.

        “As a sophomore, you don't want to use too many superlatives, because he's got two more years to develop,” said Shawnee coach Jeff Heistan, whose team wears uniforms that look similar to UC's. “But he's an outstanding player when it comes to all aspects of the game. He's a great rebounder. The biggest asset of his game is his ability to pass the ball.

        “He's a very good perimeter shooter. He's very smooth at getting to the basket off the dribble. Most teams double-team him. He's got a great head for the game.”

        Heistan said Butler averages about six rebounds and five assists and has led his team in scoring, rebounding and assists two straight seasons.

        Melton Butler, Jamar's father, said the top three schools his son considered were Cincinnati, Ohio State and Dayton. The Butlers attended the Buckeyes' game Saturday and met with coach Jim O'Brien, who offered Jamar a scholarship.

        “He has heard from North Carolina, Utah, Syracuse, Stanford, just about all of them,” Melton Butler said. “But Jamar told me and his mom he does not want to leave Ohio. He's in love with Huggins and (UC assistant) Coach (Keith) LeGree and (assistant) Coach (Dan) Peters.”

        Of course, Butler's commitment to UC is not binding until he signs a national letter of intent. If Huggins were to leave, Butler said, “it would probably change some things. If he leaves (for another college), I'll probably go with him. He's a real big factor. I like his coaching style. He's up front. He's just a great coach.”


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