Butler making most of final season at Fordham

Photo by Ben Beitzel

Photo by Ben Beitzel

Like a lot of other people around the Northeast, Brenton Butler had his plans for a holiday homecoming ruined by the weather.

The post-Christmas snowstorm that socked the New York area prevented the Norcross grad and his teammates on the Fordham basketball team from reaching Atlanta for their scheduled game at Georgia Tech on Dec. 27.

It also sent the Rams on a three-day adventure to their next destination -- the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, Calif. -- via Pittsburgh and Princeton, N.J.

"It's been an interesting last couple of days, to say the least," Butler said just prior to the New Year's holiday. "I hated (to miss the homecoming game at Tech), but there's not much I can really do about it except deal with it and move on. The past couple of years, I've had worse to deal with."

Indeed, the cross-country excursion through the snow as been one of only a few difficulties Butler has faced this season.

He currently leads the Rams (6-7, 0-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference) in scoring (16.6 points per game), assists (4.5), minutes (37.4) and free-throw shooting percentage (80.3), while ranking in the top five on the team in 3-point percentage (third, 30.8) and steals (fourth).

It is a performance that may not have happened had Butler chosen not to put his future on hold.

He walked with the rest of his class at graduation ceremonies at Fordham last spring and could have received his degree in finance.

However, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard chose to add a second minor to enable him to return to the Bronx, N.Y., campus for a redshirt senior season.

Given his family lineage -- his father is former Atlanta Falcon cornerback Bobby Butler and he has one brother, Brice, playing big-time college football at Southern California, while another is a senior guard on Norcross' current team -- it's not surprising he had a competitive spirit still in him.

Besides, the way Butler saw things, he still had some unfinished business at Fordham.

For one thing, he wanted to take advantage of an extra season of eligibility granted by a medical redshirt from a serious ankle injury that limited him to just eight games in his junior season.

Additionally, he had enough pride to want to go out on a better note after the Rams' dismal 2-26 campaign last season that included the dismissal of head coach Derek Whittenburg and the decision not to retain interim coach Jared Grasso.

Still, he wasn't sold on the idea of coming back until Tom Pecora from nearby Hofstra was hired as the Rams' new coach.

"I wanted to play one more year to try to become a better player before trying for a pro career either (in the NBA) or overseas," Butler said. "When Coach Grasso didn't come back, it was a matter of who came in as to whether I'd finish (at Fordham) or at another school.

"It was a decision me and my family made together, and it ended up being a good one. ... (Pecora) has been a blessing. He's brought in a new structure and new way of doing things."

The new way of doing things has paid off for the Rams, who have tripled their win total from all of last season already, which has been the real payoff as far as Butler is concerned.

"It's just good to be winning again," Butler said. "Instead of leaving, I really wanted to come back after going 2-26 last year."

The extra season may also pay off for Butler in other ways.

For starters, after becoming only the 33rd player in Fordham history to score at least 1,000 points for his career, Butler is now 11th on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,329 points, and has a very real chance to move into the top 10.

In addition, the his potential for a pro career -- either joining former Norcross teammates like Jodie Meeks, Gani Lawal and Al-Farouq Aminu in the NBA or playing overseas -- has gotten a boost from his performance this season.

But the future isn't really on Butler's mind at the moment.

"It's great to see so many of my old teammates and friends make it (to the NBA), and I'd love to join them," Butler said. "Obviously, the NBA is a dream of almost everybody who plays basketball. But right now, I'm just focusing on continuing to learn and get better, and I'll worry about that later."