Salt Lake City, Utah – I posed this question over dinner last night with some of my Indianapolis media brethren: Who is Butler’s best overall basketball player? I asked because I wasn’t sure how to answer myself.
The first and easiest answer is sophomore forward Gordon Hayward. After all, he is the Horizon League player of the year. Hayward has the most skills and tools. Most experts say he can leave Butler after this season and be a first round NBA draft pick. But Hayward has not been the go-to guy lately. He led the Bulldogs with 17 points against Syracuse in the Sweet 16 victory. But before Thursday, he had not posted a team-high in scoring in well over a month.
So if not Hayward, who. My vote right now would be Shelvin Mack. He is fearless on the offensive end and scores a bucket when the Bulldogs need it the most. His defense has improved and he’s always on the floor. Only Hayward has played more minutes than Mack.
But you could make a pretty good argument for Ronald Nored, too. Nored is the toughest Bulldog, guards like a hound dog and runs the show on offense. Lately, he has made the big plays in crunch time. His free throw shooting can be a real problem if Butler has the lead late. But his leadership is obvious even as a sophomore.
The senior Willie Veasley is not out of the question. He never puts up big numbers. But he makes a steal , a tip-in or a three-pointer that wins games.
And I don’t leave out Matt Howard. He has not had the season he enjoyed a year ago. But he is still the only inside presence for the Bulldogs. When he’s in foul trouble and not on the floor, the Bulldogs can be in real trouble.
I say Mack is the best all-around player right now. But I’m waiting for that breakout game from Hayward. Maybe today against Kansas State.
Rich Nye, WTHR Sports Reporter
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