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Heat convinced of Butler’s worth

June 26, 2010
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

MIAMI (AP) - For West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, perhaps the only downside of Da'Sean Butler going to the NBA is that he won't be at his side so often.

When Butler tore a ligament in his left knee during the national semifinals against Duke and collapsed to the court, Huggins was there, kneeling over his writhing star in one of the tournament's unforgettable images.

When Butler would get frustrated over the injury, Huggins was there to calm him then, too.

When Butler was drafted by the Miami Heat Thursday night, there was Huggins yet again, exalting when the phone call came.

"They got the best guy in the draft, the best person in the draft," Huggins said Friday from Morgantown, W.Va., in a telephone interview. "I can't imagine that any human being could be a better person than Da'Sean. He is such a quality guy, it's unbelievable. He's a great teammate. People here love him. He's the king of West Virginia."

The Heat ranked Butler as the 21st-best player in the draft, so when the chance came to grab him at No. 42, they didn't hesitate.

Doctors believe the torn ACL in Butler's left knee should be fully healed by mid-October at the latest, and Miami president Pat Riley indicated the team believes the 6-foot-7 forward, who averaged 17.2 points for West Virginia as a senior and was dazzling at times in the NCAA tournament, will be ready for the 2010-11 season.

"Right now I'm doing really well as far as jogging, a little bit of jumping, things like that," Butler said. "I'm pretty much a week and a half ahead of schedule. Just continue to do what I'm doing. Doctors have kind of asked me to slow down a little bit and just follow the pace, and I'm doing pretty well."

He should be in Miami next week, ready to follow whatever rehab regimen Heat doctors prescribe.

For Butler, the worst part of the buildup to the draft wasn't losing his spot as a surefire first-rounder because of the injury, or the potential loss of $1 million or more from what'll be his first NBA contract as a result.

Instead, it was the inability to work out for teams and prove he was better than those ranked ahead of him.

"I was a little angry at first when the injury happened," Butler said. "It was more of the why-me kind of thing as opposed to getting angry because I can't do this or that. Then I got into a little bit of the jealousy mode because everybody gets to work out except for me. I really wanted to work out in front of all the coaches and let them know that I think I'm a good player as well."

He didn't need to convince the Heat.

Riley saw Butler lead the Mountaineers to the Big East championship in Madison Square Garden this year, and came away convinced that he could fit into the NBA mold.

"This guy, he's a Caron Butler-type, a Udonis Haslem," Riley said. "I've seen him play a lot. Just loved him."

If Riley loves him now, just wait, Huggins said.

"I think the thing Riles will get really excited about it this guy has a great aptitude to learn basketball and learn whatever it is," Huggins said.



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