Harrison Butler for Big Sky Freshman of the Year

Harrison Butler Big Sky Freshman of the Year

Harrison Butler Big Sky Freshman of the Year

As Harrison Butler coasts through his defenders’ arms toward the rim, the crowd rises to their feet. A roar engulfs the stadium as he throws down another thunderous dunk.

Butler’s above-the-rim style has been crucial in the spectacular turnaround of SUU Basketball. The T-Birds are approaching their first winning season since 2006-07 and have passed their highest conference win total since joining the Big Sky with three games yet to play.

His performance has caught the eyes of many and with award season on the horizon, it’s time to make the case for Butler as a Big Sky Freshman of the Year candidate.

“Scary Harri” has emerged as one of SUU’s most important players. His ability to handle progressively more responsibility has opened things up on both ends of the court for Head Coach Todd Simon.

Before the season started, Butler wasn’t expected to be such an integral part of the team. Injuries to starters Jason Richardson and Dwayne Morgan forced more minutes and more responsibility on Butler.

He’s responded emphatically. Butler is averaging 11.2 PPG and leads the team with 6.9 RPG. SUU has been elevated by his athleticism and energy on the defensive end. He’s played too well to keep coming off the bench.

Since Butler was thrust into the starting lineup seven games ago, he’s averaged a team-leading 14 PPG, 9.1 RPG and 1.6 SPG in 29.1 MPG. He set his career high in points (21) and rebounds (13) against Idaho last week.

Butler’s versatility has unlocked Coach Simon’s positionless system. He’s got the bounce to grab rebounds and enough skill around the rim to play on the inside, yet his 39 percent rate from three makes him enough of a threat on the perimeter to open up driving lanes.

This is where Scary Harri shines. When Butler gets into the lane, he’s almost unstoppable.

He also gets to the line with impressive consistency. Butler finds his way to the stripe 4.5 times per contest. His passing off of drives is improving and the instinct he has for grabbing his own misses is uncanny.

Butler is the only guard in the top-15 of the Big Sky in rebounding. His ability to out-leap defenders and tip balls away has created numerous second chances for the T-Birds.

Beyond what he’s done on the court, Butler represents the future of SUU Basketball. SUU was never even in the conversation to land a three-star recruit coming out of a prestigious high school before this season.

Things are on the upswing for SUU and Harrison Butler is evidence of that. He’s been the most impactful freshman on the best T-Bird basketball team in more than a decade. He is improving every game and has blossomed as he’s taken on more of a leadership role.

Harrison Butler doesn’t just deserve to be in the conversation for Big Sky Freshman of the Year, he deserves to win it.

Story by: Connor Sanders
sports@suunews.net

Photo Courtesy of: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication

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