NCB On The Trail: Butler Bulldogs

Forty-six Division I schools came into the season with a new basketball coach. The vast majority of those changes were met with optimism and enthusiasm.

But with conference play now revving up, many first year coaches are dealing with the harsh reality that rebuilding isn’t going to happen overnight. And in those types of situations, sometimes your first year recruiting class can be more important than your win-loss record.

A coach’s first recruiting class is absolutely critical to his long-term success. It’s about more than just filling out next year’s roster. It’s about setting the tone for the way in which the staff and program will be viewed by prospects, high school coaches, and AAU coaches moving forward. And this time of year, when the product on the floor isn’t always something a coach can sell, making an initial splash on the recruiting trail is often times all it takes to develop the type of positive momentum to build on.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how seven first-year coaches are doing on the trail:

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#AskCoachB: Latest on Bluiett

October, 14, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



I spoke with Trevon's dad, Reynardo Bluiett, just a few days ago and he mentioned the following schools for his son: Butler, Memphis, Xavier, Michigan State and Purdue.

This past weekend, Bluiett (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) made an official visit to Memphis. A significant factor in the favor of Memphis is assistant coach Jason Gardner, who was Mr. Basketball in Indiana in 1999 and became an All-American at Arizona. Butler also seems to be right in the thick of it, as they are the local school that is now in the Big East. Michigan State is in the hunt to go along with ESPN 100 PG Lourawls Nairn, who we like to distribute the ball. After speaking with his dad, it looks as though there is a good chance Bluiett will make his decision in the early signing period.

Scout's take: Martin to Butler 

October, 8, 2013
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ESPN 100 PF Kelan Martin (Louisville, Ky./Ballard) committed to the Butler Bulldogs over St. Louis and Texas Tech giving first year head coach Brandon Miller a four-star prospect and the No. 97 overall ranked player in the Class of 2014.

Why he committed: Martin decided to join the Bulldogs because they were in need of a forward that can score and Martin fits the description perfectly. The fit was a natural in terms of academics in addition to Martin feeling most comfortable to Miller. Martin’s family will also have opportunity to see him play in the Big East at an excellent program that is close to home.

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Butler lands ESPN 100 PF Martin

October, 8, 2013
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ESPN 100 power forward Kelan Martin (Louisville, Ky./Ballard) ended his recruitment on Monday night with a verbal commitment to Butler, according to multiple reports.

Martin, ranked No. 97 overall in the 2014 class, chose the Bulldogs over St. Louis and Texas Tech. The senior joins power forward Tyler Wideman (Merrillville, Ind./Lake Central) in new head coach Brandon Miller's 2014 recruiting class.
Trey LylesCourtesy David Dixon/tnl1.comNo. 4 recruit Trey Lyles trimmed his list to Kentucky, Louisville, Florida and Butler this week, but it could come down to a battle between John Calipari and Rick Pitino.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Trey Lyles cut his final college list to four earlier this week down here at the Peach Jam, and the onetime Indiana commit kept the dream alive when both Louisville and Kentucky remained in the hunt.

Lyles is a stud, ranked No. 4 in the ESPN 100. Think a 6-foot-9, 250-pound version of Tim Duncan. Not overly athletic, but super skilled and with an extremely high IQ. The senior power forward out of Arsenal Tech in Indianapolis can score with both hands in the paint, has terrific touch around the basket, can bury shots from midrange, and can even step out beyond the arc and drain shots from deep.

No. 1 point guard Tyus Jones and No. 1 overall Jahlil Okafor have soaked up the majority of the headlines in the 2014 class thanks to their talents and their willingness to play together in college, but Lyles could have as much of a winning impact as anyone in this entire group. He’s a versatile scorer who can rebound, pass and help lead a team. He’s more than capable of being a double-double guy as a freshman in college thanks to his rebounding instincts.

Florida and Butler also made the cut in Lyles’ final four, but this one could very well come down to a Battle of the Bluegrass. In fact, many of those close to this recruitment feel it will ultimately be John Calipari vs. Rick Pitino.

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No. 4 Trey Lyles down to four

July, 12, 2013
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ESPN 100 power forward Trey Lyles (Indianapolis/Arsenal Tech) has narrowed his choices to four schools, according to a post on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-8 Lyles tweeted a picture of the four remaining schools on Instagram on Thursday night. Florida, Butler, Kentucky and Louisville will vie for his services after he eliminated Duke and UCLA.

Lyles is currently in North Augusta, S.C. playing for Spiece Indy Heat in the Nike EYBL finals at the Peach Jam.

Miller gives Butler recruiting continuity 

July, 6, 2013
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It's called The Butler Way, and it's not merely a cute saying, but rather a way of existence for one of the country's most unique college basketball powers.

On Saturday, athletic director Barry Collier filled Butler’s vacant head-coaching spot, created when Brad Stevens left this week to be head coach of the Boston Celtics, by choosing to sustain The Butler Way. Collier replaced Stevens by promoting an in-house candidate -- former Butler player Brandon Miller, who was just rehired as a Bulldogs assistant in April -- who happened to be on the ground floor of the construction of this national program.

Had Butler gone outside the family, it most certainly would not have been The Butler Way. Hiring Miller is a way to sustain the culture and identity of this program.

It also means Butler’s new head coach won't have strains on his time during a key month in the recruiting calendar.

Miller has been a soldier and a lieutenant in the Butler army. Now he's commander-in-chief, as he takes over the reins of the program a mere four days before the tip of the pivotal July recruiting period, which begins on Wednesday with the first open evaluation period (July 10-14) for college coaches.

What is Miller's course of action in recruiting? Priority No. 1 is don't panic.

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The busy July in basketball recruiting isn’t just about the players -- it’s about the college coaches, too. Specifically, with three open evaluation periods (July 10-14, July 17-21 and July 24-28) and more than a dozen major events throughout the country, it’s about where those coaches are and which prospects they are watching.

Since the whereabouts of a coach in July can be a major indicator of his recruiting priorities, here’s a look at five head coaches -- plus a bonus recruiting rivalry -- whose travel plans the college basketball world will be glued to this month.

[+] EnlargeMike Krzyzewski
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY SportsWith the potential to lose as many as six players next offseason, the 2014 class is an important one for Duke and Coach K.
1. Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
Coach K isn’t retiring from Team USA after all, so that means he’ll again have limited time to cover the recruiting period. The difference this year, however, is that the 2014 class is one of the most important for Duke in recent memory, as the Blue Devils could possibly be looking at as many as six scholarships to fill after the coming season (depending on the potential for Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon to leave early for the NBA draft). That makes the days Coach K does have to recruit especially valuable, which means we’ll be able to tell quite a bit about Duke’s priorities based on the prospects he’s following. ESPN 100 sharpshooter Grayson Allen is already on board and the Blue Devils would like to sign three prospects in November’s early signing period, but they’ll need a strong showing from the big boss to make that happen.

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Shane Rector headed to the SEC 

April, 21, 2013
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Former Rutgers recruit Shane Rector (Bronx, N.Y./South Kent School) verbally committed to Missouri on Saturday, according to the Kansas City Star. Rector made his decision while on an official visit this weekend.


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ESPNU's RecruitingNation to look at surprise classes 

February, 21, 2013
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ESPNU's RecruitingNation program on Thursday will take a look at some of the surprise recruiting classes in 2013.

ESPN's Director of Recruiting Paul Biancardi will break down the hauls of LSU, Memphis, Connecticut, Iowa State and Butler. The former coach will also look at the games of the top two players in the 2013 class, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, and where each could improve.

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Top 5 junior narrows list to six 

February, 11, 2013
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ESPN 60 power forward Trey Lyles (Indianapolis/Arsenal Tech) has narrowed his college choices to six, according to a report in The Indianapolis Star.

Lyles, ranked no. 5 in the junior class, will choose between Florida, Butler, Kentucky, UCLA, Louisville and Duke.

"I'm just focused on those schools," Lyles told the paper. "I like the style they play, they have rich legacies, have good coaches and I feel like I could be comfortable at any of them."

Lyle has already visited Butler, Kentucky and Louisville and said he plans to officially visit Florida, UCLA and Duke. He also told the paper he will not announce his decision until after his senior season.

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Mater Dei guard picks Butler 

January, 25, 2013
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Senior guard Elijah Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) verbally committed to Butler on Thursday night. Mater Dei head coach Gary McKnight confirmed the news to the Orange County Register.


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Vandy lands in-state PG Thompson 

January, 19, 2013
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Senior point guard Darius Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Blackman) ended his recruitment on Saturday with a commitment to Vanderbilt, according to The Tennessean.


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Butler lands SG Rene Castro 

October, 28, 2012
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Shooting guard Rene Castro (Milton, Mass./Worcester Academy) gave Butler a verbal commitment on Saturday night, according to multiple sources.

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Penn State land PG Graham Woodward 

October, 15, 2012
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Two-star point guard Graham Woodward (Edina, Minn./Edina) announced his decision to attend Penn State on Monday. Woodward broke the news first via his Twitter account.

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