Da’Sean Butler still working toward making NBA dreams a reality
Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 06:06
Da’Sean Butler always had a dream to play in the NBA.
After an outstanding senior season at West Virginia, in which he solidified himself as one of the greatest players in school history, it looked as if the dream was going to be a reality.
Then, with nine minutes to play in the Mountaineers’ Final Four loss to Duke, that path to the league changed drastically when Butler’s knee gave out from under him.
The result was a torn ACL and a much longer journey ahead of him in order to make his dream come true.
But he still has that vision of himself playing at the highest level of basketball in the world. And he can feel it within his grasp.
"I still want to play in the NBA and play for a good team and win games and have a good career. Little things like that would be fine with me," Butler said. "I wouldn’t mind being a great player, but at the end of the day, I would just be happy to fulfill dreams like those."
After a long period consisting of a lot of rehab, Butler finally made his return to the court with the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League.
"I was more just thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to go out there and play. I hadn’t played in a year, so just to go out there and run around – I felt like a little kid for the first couple of games," Butler said. "The first practice I was kind of nervous, but I got used to it. It’s like everyone else, you get jitters (playing in the first game), but after the first minute or two, I settled down and got into a calm groove of just going out and playing."
Butler started in 29 of the 37 games he appeared in for the Toros, averaging more than 11 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Now, he’s back in Morgantown working out in WVU’s new practice facility, trying to get back on track toward his dream of playing in the NBA.
"We all know it was tragic what happened to Da’," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "I’ve told him many times that I don’t think there’s anybody that ever doubted he would be an NBA player had he not gotten hurt.
"Unfortunately, he’s not the first and won’t be the last."
Butler admitted it was tough to come to terms with what he was going through at first, just as anyone would when it looks like their dream has been taken away from them for the time being.
But he’s been able to accept with the fact that’s just how things work out sometimes, and he just has to roll with the punches and keep working toward his goal.
"That’s the whole point of life," Butler said. "Any human being would be frustrated, but I didn’t really dwell on those things. I always knew that something else will happen when I get the opportunity to get my opportunity (to play in the NBA).
"When I get that chance, I’ll take advantage of it."
When Butler’s on the floor, he doesn’t worry about his knee anymore. He doesn’t worry about what would happen if he doesn’t get a chance to play in the NBA.
"Why think like that?" Butler said. "Why not just continue doing what I’ve been doing and work hard and try to continue to play? If it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to."
Right now, Butler is waiting to find out what he’ll be doing when next season starts.
His options are a chance to play overseas and playing for a team in the NBA Summer League, and trying to make his dream come true in that way.
"All I know is that when I get my opportunity, I won’t pass it up and I’ll play as hard as I can," Butler said.
"I wouldn’t turn anything down right now. Taking time off from basketball was bad enough."
Butler has had to go through a lot to get to where he is now.
In a matter of just a few years, he went from being a projected first-round pick to falling to the second round. Then, after getting cut by a couple of teams and finding his way to where he is now, he’s learned one big lesson that he’s using to motivate him as he continues to work toward the NBA.
"No one’s guaranteed anything," he said. "It doesn’t matter what I did in college or the road I had to take to get back or anything like that; it’s just when you step on the court, what you do then.
"Right now, I’m ready, and I know I’m going to work myself back into game shape so I’m ready for my chance when it comes."