Herald-Whig

Butler chasing dream of playing professional basketball

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 7, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jul. 8, 2018 12:30 am

Counting the number of NCAA Division III basketball players to have played in the NBA can be done on one hand.

Jack Sikma. Devean George. Vern Mikkelsen.

There's the list. At least those are the ones you might now. Other D-III players might have enjoyed the proverbial cup of coffee in the NBA, but the odds of getting such a chance are astronomical.

So that's a dream Brock Butler never fully entertained. That doesn't mean he hasn't thought about playing professionally overseas.

"It would be a small-town kid's dream to be able to travel the world and play something I've loved to do since I could barely walk," said Butler, the Palmyra, Mo., product. "I've had a ball in my hands for as long as I can remember. It would be a lifetime dream and goal of mine."

A trip to Atlanta may have helped turn that dream into reality.

Butler, who recently graduated from Iowa Wesleyan University, an NCAA Division III school in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, participated in the EuroBasket Summer League camp last weekend at the Tracey Wyatt Recreation Center in College Park, Ga. It was a mix of players from all levels -- D-I, D-II, D-III and NAIA -- looking for a break.

The two-day event featured a mix of drills and skill work along with competitive games.

"It was like an exposure camp," Butler said.

After the Saturday grind that featured agility drills, shooting stations and 3-on-3 competition, among other things, players were broken into teams ranging from six to eight players for two 40-minute games on Sunday. Butler was placed with players from Georgia State, Murray State and South Alabama.

"I got to see some freaks doing what they do," Butler said.

He felt like he held his own.

"I tried to," Butler said. "I wasn't going to let them push me around."

Afterward, he was encouraged by his play.

"I was looking at the stats of what I did compared to everyone else and I feel really good about it," Butler said. "My team won both games. I thought I played pretty well in both games. Leaving the camp, I talked to my parents about this on the way home, I feel really good and really confident about my performance at the camp."

After the final two camps -- there were six total in the United States and two in Istanbul, Turkey -- wrap up in Las Vegas, coaches will evaluate the talent and then pursue contract talks.

Butler is holding out hope he lands an opportunity, but he has a backup plan in place.

"If I don't get a call, I have to take my certification test for sports training," Butler said. "I'll be able to stay close to sports. I might just hang it up then, but I haven't really decided that yet because I haven't been forced to make that decision."

What he has done is continue to evolve as a player.

A first-team all-area pick who made six 3-pointers in the McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic his senior year, Butler enjoyed a stellar career at Iowa Wesleyan. He averaged 27 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a senior, earning first-team All-St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and first-team USCAA all-American honors.

He finished his career seventh on the all-time scoring list with 1,573 points.

The ability to fill it up bodes well for Butler, but he'll have to do more.

"I have to be able to shoot the basketball, which is something I've been able to do the majority of my life," Butler said. "Playing college basketball really helped me expand my game. Going from high school to college, I had to be able to do more with the basketball than just shoot. The transition helped me grow as a player."

It just might help him make a dream come true.