Friend’s death, national honor test emotions of UTM’s Butler
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:00 pm
Heather Butler spent a couple of hours at the funeral home in Trenton Monday night paying her respects to a former high school basketball teammate who died over the weekend.
Butler, who might be 5-6 on her tip-toes, has racked up every conceivable basketball honor in just two years at UT Martin. Small in stature, but blessed with talent on the basketball court, this Gibson County dynamo is not one to cry.
Until Monday night.
“Magan (Porter) and I were very close,” Butler said. “We had a strong bond.” The two girls played basketball at Gibson County High School in Dyer and won a state championship together.
“I don’t like crying in front of people,” Butler said. “Tonight I cried.”
The tears dried up, but the emotions of the death of one of her closest high school friends were still present as Butler learned she was one of 25 players in the nation named to the “Wade Watch” list of candidates for the prestigious State Farm Wade Trophy, a list that also includes former Obion County Central prep standout Chassidy Fussell of Texas.
The Wade Trophy, regarded as The Heisman of Women’s Basketball, is named in honor of the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade. The award is presented annually to the NCAA Division I Player of the Year by the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and the WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association).
“Wow, this is awesome and an honor to be in this category,” Butler said.
Also on the preseason watch list with Butler is Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame, Christina Foggie of Vanderbilt, Shoni Schimmel of Louisville, and the 2012 State Farm Wade Trophy winner Brittney Griner of Baylor.
Butler averaged 24.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, helping UT Martin to its second consecutive Ohio Valley Conference tournament title and its second straight berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Butler earned All-OVC first team accolades, starting in all 31 games. She led the OVC and ranked third in the NCAA in scoring, pouring in a progra-record 746 points.
Butler led the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage (.434) and ranked fifth in the 3-point field goals made. She cracked double figures in scoring in every game, extending her record of 10 or more points in all 63 career games.
Butler passed Pat Head Summitt as the fastest player in UTM history to reach 1,000 career points when she accomplished the feat in her 50th game.
“This has made my day,” Butler said. “I am in a much better mood.” Published in The WCP 9.18.12