The Butler men return just two starters from a year ago, but head coach Bryan Miller will have a roster full of athleticism and depth as the Grizzlies get ready to start the 2016-17 basketball season.
Jacolby Harris (Delray Beach, FL) returns for the Grizzlies after taking a medical redshirt last season. Before his injury, he started in five games, averaging 10.6 points per contest. Harris was All-Jayhawk West Conference performer as a freshman when Butler went 29-4 and won the conference title in 2014-15.
"He started every game for that team," Miller said. "He brings toughness, maturity and experience to the table this year."
Will Adler (Winfield, KS) started 20 of Butler's 33 games last year, scoring 7.2 points per game with 3.6 rebounds per contest. Adler made 44 percent of 3-pointers last year (48-108) and is one of the premier shooters in the country, according to Miller.
Semaj Hervey (Wichita, KS/Heights) also returns for Butler. He averaged 12 minutes a night, averaging 6.6 points a game. Miller calls him a "spark plug who can really score it."
Ken Perkins (Chicago, IL) started seven of the 15 games he played in a year ago, averaging seven points a game. At 6-10, Miller says he is a "matchup nightmare" for opposing teams because he can play inside or outside. Last year, Perkins shot 27 percent from 3-point range, but also can play inside. Miller says Perkins can matched up defensively on anyone from the point guard to the center.
Another player who was in the program a year ago is Johnnathan Lindsey (Detroit, MI). He was a redshirt last season, practicing with the Grizzlies every day.
"He is one of premier athletes in the country," Miller said. "Redshirting gave him a lot more experience and he was able to get more familiar with way we play and work on his overall skill set. He'll be a presence in the paint. He can rebound with anyone."
Butler has a number of incoming freshmen. Four that will make an immediate impact include LaJuan Hardy (Houston, TX), Karlon McSpadden (Omaha, NE), Ketarrious Bouchum (Dallas, TX) and Antferene Adams (Homer, LA).
"We are strongest at the guard position," Miller said. "Our point guards and shooting guards are really good. I like our post players as well. We have good depth in the post."
Butler opens the season with back-to-back games on Nov. 4 (Southwestern JV) and 5 (Fort Scott) and then faces Tabor JV on Nov. 8. Those three non-conference games will be played at Circle High School in Towanda. Heavy rains flooded the Butler gymnasium twice the season, and the arena floor is still in the process of being renovated.
Butler will start Jayhawk Conference play on Nov. 12 at Garden City, which is ranked 25th nationally in the preseason poll. Things do not look to get much easier as Butler returns to the Power Plant for a game against Seward County on Nov. 16.
The Jayhawk Conference will feature a 26-game double round-robin schedule this year spanning both semesters. In the past, conference play was limited to the second semester, allowing teams to get ready with non-conference games in November and December.
"That will be a war of attrition," Miller said. "There is no other conference in the country that plays that many conference games. The emphasis will be to win at home and steal a couple on the road. We want to compete for a league title. That's our goal; to win the conference and the region."