It seems like nearly every year May approaches and fans start to panic when Butler has yet to make a splash on the recruiting front. The Bulldogs are once again in that position. Except it’s not May. It’s nearly October, and nearly all of Butler’s top targets have already made their decision. Only Jaxson Hayes remains, and he is not expected to choose Butler when he announces his decision tomorrow.
Butler appears to have struck out this summer in recruiting. As expected, many fans are panicking, and apparently this is the beginning of the end of Butler basketball.
But there should be no panic by Butler. The Bulldogs are going to be just fine. Here are 5 reasons that Butler’s empty 2018 recruiting class is no big deal.
Butler Already Has A 2019 Commit
Before we dive into the 2018 class further, let’s not forget that Butler didn’t walk away empty handed this summer. While they didn’t secure any commitments for 2018, they did snag John Michael-Mulloy, a 6’9” PF/C out of Carmel. Mulloy is an extremely skilled big with range extending out to the 3-point line. Many experts projected his recruitment to blow up next summer after he has added more strength, but Mulloy didn’t care. Butler is where he wants to be and he saw no reason to wait and collect high major offers. It could be a huge commitment (both figuratively and literally) in the future for the Bulldogs, and is evidence that Lavall Jordan is absolutely capable of selling the program to recruits.
The Coaching Staff Didn’t Have Enough Time
It was immediately clear from the beginning that recruiting this summer was going to be an uphill battle. With every member of the previous staff leaving for Ohio State it meant the new coaching staff had to nearly start from scratch. Coaches work for years building relationships with recruits, but Coach Jordan was forced to do this in a few months. The spring evaluation period was almost completely wasted for Butler, leaving them only the July periods. The Bulldogs appeared to be doing an excellent job making up ground, but ultimately fell just short for numerous recruits. The end result was coming up empty, but it’s not like the staff appeared to be in over their heads. This was a one time occurrence that Coach Jordan won't be dealing with every year.
Lavall Jordan Has A Losing Record
The second huge reason that Butler may have had a hard time landing recruits this summer is that Coach Jordan is completely unproven as a head coach. One big draw for the Bulldogs on the recruiting trail is they are consistently playing in the NCAA tournament. When a prospect chooses to come play for Butler they feel confident they will get the chance to go to the dance multiple times.
At least that was the case in the past. Now Butler has that brand new staff, and the head man has a career coaching record of 11-24. This is such a unique situation for Butler. When was the last time a coach got a high major job after finishing last place in a mid-major conference the season before? Can we really blame recruits for opting not to put their college career in the hands of someone who has no history of success as a head coach?
The point here is this will all change. Remember Coach Holtmann was 11-21 and 12-20 in his first two seasons as a head coach at Gardner Webb. He turned out just fine, and Coach Jordan will as well. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects Butler to be a 7 seed this year. That type of season won’t put them in contention for a Big East title, but it would certainly give recruits a little sense of security that the Butler brand isn’t going anywhere. If Butler misses the tournament my concern level will quickly rise, but for now I have full confidence that Coach Jordan will start winning a lot of games at Butler and recruiting will quickly heat up once he does.
Butler Only Has 3 Open Scholarships
There is never a good time to miss in recruiting, but the timing isn’t terrible for Butler. The roster this season will have five scholarship freshman (assuming Joey Brunk gets his hardship waiver approved) and only two seniors. Those seniors are Kelan Martin, possibly the best scorer in the Big East, and Tyler Wideman, a three year starter, so there is certainly quality that needs to be replaced, but not quantity. Coach Jordan isn’t in a desperate situation where he needs to find bodies just to fill out the roster. He has the luxury of being able to remain patient and wait until the spring to find an available freshman or a transfer. Many coaches like to have flexibility and leave a scholarship open, which means Jordan will only need to fill two spots.
Spring Recruiting Might Get Crazy
Speaking of spring recruiting, this could be an outstanding year to have several scholarships available. We’ve already seen three top recruits decommit from schools involved in the recent FBI investigations, and it’s likely just the tip of the iceberg. There is going to be an unprecedented amount of talent available this spring. It will be a second chance, a fair chance this time, for Coach Jordan and his staff to add to the 2018 roster.