Did you think the spring was over when Butler landed Bryce Golden and Khalif Battle in the same week? Think again. Butler’s huge spring on the recruiting front continues as news broke today on Twitter that Milwaukee transfer Bryce Nze will be joining the Bulldogs. Nze is a 6’7” 230 lb power forward who averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game last season for LaVall Jordan’s former squad. Jordan coached Nze during his freshman season at Milwaukee when he averaged 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest. Nze will have to sit out the upcoming season per NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility remaining after that.
Nze is a blue collar workhorse down low who may remind Butler fans of l recent graduate Tyler Wideman. Both are extremely efficient scorer’s who do most of their work around the rim and on the glass. Bryce shot 62% on 2 point attempts last season for Milwaukee while pulling down a program record 96 offensive rebounds. His overall rebounding rate of 17% would have been good for first among qualified Butler players last season. Like Wideman, Nze struggled significantly from the foul line early in his career. He shot only 42% from the stripe as a freshman (nearly identical to Wideman) and 48% from there as a sophomore.
While Milwaukee played a significantly weaker schedule than Nze will face at Butler, he did perform well in his few chances against high major opponents. In the second game of the season he scored 13 points on 6-7 shooting with 4 rebounds and 3 steals in only 22 minutes in a victory over Iowa State of the Big 12. Later that month he tallied 10 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 5-7 from the field in a loss against Wisconsin. Nze also duplicated that exact same line plus 4 steals in a victory over Loyola Chicago, a future Final Four team.
Bryce Nze hasn’t just been productive in his first two seasons, he’s also been the type of player that can be trusted to carry on the “Butler Way”. In February of last year, back when Nze and LaVall were both at Milwaukee, Coach Jordan raved about the type of player Bryce was after he won the Horizon League Player of the Week award. “I don’t even think he cares,” Coach Jordan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in this article (worth the read!). “He just wants to win, which is the best part about him. He wants to do a good job for his teammates and represent the program the right way. I made him aware of the award, and he kind of shrugged it off like it wasn’t a big deal because we didn’t win when we were at UIC. That’s what he’s about is winning. Those are the guys you want. It’s nice they get some individual attention, but that’s not what his goal is. His goal is to win.”
From the same article, Coach Jordan also praised Nze’s understanding of the game. “He’s coachable, and he’s got an IQ for the game. That helps him because he gets into a situation that we haven’t taught, and he has to use his instincts. That blend of doing what we're teaching and having that instinct and feel is hard to instill in a player. You either have it or you don’t.”
The addition of Nze brings Butler’s scholarship total for next season to 13, the maximum allowed by the NCAA. It brings the projected number of scholarships for the 2019-2020 season to 13 as well. This means Butler will be unable to add any additional 2019 recruits without a departure from the roster. With transfers becoming more and more common and a potential NBA player on the team it will be interesting to see if Butler continues to recruit anyone from the class. It’s extremely unusual for Butler to have a full class so early. Stay tuned to ButlerHoops.com for all the latest news and rumors as LaVall Jordan and his staff continue building one of the top programs in college basketball.