Currently with two open scholarships, the Butler Bulldogs have been very active in the transfer market this early offseason.
Butler is linked to around 8 names right now, but the situation remains very fluid–and there probably are other transfers they’re connected with that haven’t actually been publicly reported yet.
It was expected that soon-to-be sophomore shooting guard Khalif Battle and senior small forward Jordan Tucker would be the the starters for the 2020-21 season, but Battle recently transferred to Temple while Tucker is testing the NBA pre-draft waters and is far from a guarantee to return.
The Bulldogs now have huge, somewhat unexpected holes in their starting lineup at both starting shooting guard and small forward.
For what it’s worth, the Bulldogs do have two highly touted recruits (among their highest ranked incoming recruiting class in program history), freshman guard Myles Tate and small forward Scooby Johnson, who should be high impact players down the road for the program.
If worst comes to worst, and Butler comes out empty handed in the immediate transfer market, there could always be the “play the kids” mentality–starting Tate and Johnson both as freshman–with the hopes of brighter days ahead for the Bulldogs.
That being said, it’s rare that freshman make an immediate impact at Butler.
While there have been the immediate program greats such as Matt Howard and Kamar Baldwin, those type of immediate impact freshman don’t happen often–and are among Butler’s best players to ever lace them up at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
As the Bulldogs just saw with Khalif Battle–their 2nd highest rated high school recruit all-time via 247sports.com, even some of the best regarded high school recruits can struggle with inconsistency, as well as the overall physicality and speed of the college game initially.
Nothing is guaranteed at the next level.
The NCAA is currently expected to vote on a one-time waiver transfer on May 20th, which would make all of this offseason’s transfers immediately eligible if agreed upon–even those who would normally have to sit-out for a year.
Butler has already lost out on a pair of high impact transfers in two high stakes poker games: Santa Clara guard Trey Wertz (to Notre Dame) and San Francisco guard Charles Minlend (to Louisville) among others, but that doesn’t mean the Dawgs are done yet.
The Bulldogs have been linked to perimeter players such as George Mason’s Justin Kier, Rice’s Drew Peterson, Western Michigan’s Michael Flowers, Ball State’s Ishmael El-Amin, James Madison’s Darius Banks, and Sacred Heart’s Koreem Ozier.
If Butler can snag two immediate perimeter transfers (and that could be determined by the outcome of the NCAA’s pending waiver vote–depending on if they’re a grad transfer already), the Bulldogs could be back in business in an experienced starting lineup that still features three upperclassmen: starting point guard Aaron Thompson, power forward Bryce Nze, and center Bryce Golden.
It’s also still possible by landing one immediate perimeter transfer–if freshman small forward Scooby Johnson, who’s been lauded for his potential readiness at the next level, can prove to be an immediate impact player on the wing–but expectations should be tempered a bit for a freshman.
In such hypothetical scenarios, Butler would still be fairly competitive–realistically not rising to #5 in the country again like last season–but with the outside chance to still sneak into next year’s NCAA Tournament late in the year on what would still be a very veteran Bulldogs’ starting squad.
However, it all depends on whether Butler can land an immediate impact perimeter transfer–hopefully two.