In my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, there isn’t much going on outside during the cold and harsh winter months. But every few nights in the Johnson Athletic Center at The Prairie School, the lights turn on, the crowd arrives in full force, and JC Butler puts on a basketball spectacle for all to see.
JC Butler is the son of two-time All-Star Caron Butler, another Racine native. Basketball is clearly in Butler’s blood and he has developed his game a lot over the years. Head coach of The Prairie School Hawks, Jason Atanasoff, had this to say about Butler: “I have very much enjoyed watching him develop through the years, both as a person and as a player. The maturation has been fun to watch take place. As far as what he does different than other players, he simply brings a whole other level of athleticism that cannot be taught and that allows him to do things on both ends of the floor that others cannot physically do. JC’s entire game is strong, but his ability to finish at the rim and traffic and his ability to defend on the ball and rebound and get us in transition are some aspects of his game that stand out. He is also a brilliant passer.”
Despite Butler’s unusual upbringing, both coaches and teammates alike will be the first to tell you how humble Butler is despite his extraordinary talents. Just ask coach Atanasoff: “He is a great son, a great brother, a great student, a great teammate, and a great role model to our young students…He does not crave all of the pressure, attention, and media coverage that comes his way, but he handles it well.” Teammate, and close friend, Troy Mikaelian tells future teammates of Butler to “[Not] judge him off his appearance and his basketball abilities. He’s not egotistical or any of that. He’s about as warm as you can be when you have as much ability as he does.”
Last season, JC started in 24 of Prairie’s 25 games and averaged 26 points per game on an insane 67% shooting percentage, as well as 8.2 rebounds, 3 assists, and nearly 2 steals per game. He also scored his 1,000th career point during his junior season. When asked what motivates him to continue to improve, Butler said, “I feel that I have no limits and can do anything I put my mind to by working hard and staying focused.” Here is a full breakdown of Butler sophomore and junior year statistics courtesy of MaxPreps:
Given Butler’s close proximity to the NBA, he tries to take a little bit from every player’s game. Some of Butler’s role models in the sport include his father, obviously, but also players like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Personally, I think that Butler resembles Rudy Gay in terms of his raw athleticism and ability to finish at the rim, especially in transition.
However, for as good as Butler is, he knows that there are things he needs to do if wants to see continued success at the next level. “The main thing I need to work on…is my strength, conditioning, and aggressiveness. Players at the next level are a lot stronger and faster so I have to be able to match, and exceed that.” Butler is currently listed at 6’ 5” and 190 pounds.
Coach Atanasoff agrees with Butler’s self analysis; “Like most young men making the transition to college, he will need to add strength to compete at the division one level. He is really strong for a 17-year-old, but the college game gets more physical, and that’s why you see such a large gain in strength in college players between their freshman and sophomore years.”
Butler has an incredibly bright future in basketball, but he truly embraces what it means to be a ‘student athlete’ and has big plans for his future; “My goal…is to play at the collegiate level and get an education. I also plan to get better at basketball and see where my game can take me.” Even as a 17-year-old, Butler has a great attitude about the college selection process: “[It] isn’t really stressful for me personally. It’s more of just finding a good fit for basketball and school.” Many regular students are, understandably, fearful for college, but even with all of the extra added attention and pressure, Butler said he is “…excited to move on to bigger things and test myself at the next level.”
Butler is currently being recruited at various levels of college basketball. Here is a list of the schools he said has reached out to him: Wisconsin, UConn (father’s alma mater), LSU, Georgia Tech, Nebraska-Omaha, UNLV, Memphis, Marquette, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Toledo, Portland State, Santa Clara, North Dakota State, Miami (Ohio), and Drake. Butler will look to narrow down this list in August.
On behalf of both myself and the rest of everyone at FlurrySports, we would like to thank JC Butler, Jason Atanasoff, and Troy Mikaelian for taking the time to speak with us. We wish the best of luck to JC on his upcoming senior season and for his college selection process. For more updates on JC Butler and the rest of the Prairie Hawks men’s basketball program, follow TPS Boys Basketball on Twitter @TPSHoops. Go Hawks!