With a desire to get the recruiting process over and to focus on his final season at Riverside, senior point guard Jared Butler took advantage of the Early Signing Period and signed his National Letter of Intent Monday to play for Alabama.
“It's a great day for me, it's a blessing,” said Butler. “It's one of those days I've been waiting for since I was a little kid. It was a tough, tough, tough process for me with all the recruiting. I didn't think it would be as tough. It's finally come to an end and I'm glad. I'm comfortable with my decision and I'm glad where the program is headed for Alabama. I just can't wait to get there, really can't wait.”
“I think he wanted to get it out of the way,” said Riverside coach Timmy Byrd. “I think he was kind of getting tired of the process. He kind of blew up on the scene in April. He had a good spring and a good summer and I think he's glad to have it behind him.
“We have high expectations for our high school team and he's been real focused. At 17-years-old he's a young player so he's got a bright future in front of him but we look for to him to lead us to a state championship this year and I know that's on his mind.”
“That's one of the things I wanted to do is to get this decision done early so I can focus on the high school season,” said Butler. “I really can't wait, especially with all the starters back so I feel like we're going to be very experienced and very mature. I don't see anybody competing with us this year, but I can't wait.”
Butler was part of state championship teams at Riverside as an eighth and ninth grader. In his sophomore season Riverside finished as a state runner-up, and last season made it to the Division III State Semifinals.
His numbers last season were highly impressive averaging close to 21 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds a game.
“They're getting a complete player,” said Byrd. “They're getting the complete package, a high IQ guy that has a college body already. He's 6-3, 190 pounds so they're getting a guy that's ready to play right away. He's going to have to adjust to the speed and the strength naturally and just going hard every day in practice and the games. But he'll adjust to that, he's played since he was an eighth grader here so he's used to playing with older guys. He's got the whole package, he's got great skill, he's got mental toughness and he's really got a bright future in front of him and we expect that he'll be one of the best players to ever come out of Riverside.”
As for the decision to sign with Alabama?
“First and foremost (Alabama head coach) Avery Johnson,” said Butler. “He was an NBA coach and it was perfect for me because I want to be in the NBA and he already knows what it takes, and he was a point guard too, and he's from New Orleans. So there were just a lot of things to contribute to me trusting him. Then the guys at Alabama, the assistant coaches they showed a lot of love and were very consistent in the whole process so it was just a great thing.”
“That's where his heart was and that's where he felt comfortable,” said Byrd. “I really look for him to have an outstanding career there. He's going to play early, he's going to either start or play major minutes according to what they're telling him. He though it was a good fit and he'll have some good young players that will be playing around him.”