As it currently stands, Pat Chambers is bringing on only one incoming freshman to the Penn State men’s basketball roster for the 2017-18 season. This is likely to change following the recent early departures of the soon-to-be graduates in Payton Banks, Isaiah Washington, and Terrence Samuel.
In the meantime, Trent Buttrick — a 6-foot-8 power forward from Florida — is the lone 2017 hoops commit for the Nittany Lions. Buttrick is originally from Bloomsburg, Pa., but played his high school ball at the Community School in Naples.
— Trent Buttrick (@Trent_Buttrick) February 9, 2017
We recently talked to his head coach, Greg Donahue, to find out what kind of person Buttrick is on and off the court. Turns out Penn State is getting a high-character and well-respected person next year.
“Off the court, Trent is a very kind and thoughtful young man. My seven-year-old son and his eight-year-old cousin pick him as their favorite player. Trent always plays with the young kids and gives them tons of attention,” Donahue said. “He even autographed basketballs for them when they asked him to. For a player such as Trent to take time to play with the kids, it means a lot to them and me.”
Buttrick is regularly described as a stretch four — a big man that has the ability to knock down some outside shots. This is the perfect type of player to pair with the Nittany Lions’ starting center Mike Watkins, whose game mainly revolves around the post on both ends.
A 4-5 combo of Buttrick and Watkins has the ability to space the floor offensively to allow Watkins optimal space to work in the post. On the defensive end, Buttrick appears mobile enough to run with the other athletic forwards in the Big Ten. Donahue says that one of Buttrick’s best attributes on the court is his ability to guard every position.
Buttrick seems like he’d fit right in with Penn State under Chambers on a team that preaches defense. Being able to guard multiple positions is extremely valuable in today’s game. It opens up a lot of options with how a team can guard an opponent on defense — it can allow them to switch on-ball screens, which makes it difficult for an offense to get something going.
Donahue also believes that Buttrick will bring a “good depth of basketball knowledge” to Penn State in addition to his strong shooting ability from the field and at the foul line. He also stressed that not only does Buttrick have a solid handle for his size and great footwork, but he is an extremely coachable player.
On the other hand, Buttrick’s coach thinks that the future Nittany Lion will need to improve his ability to get a shot off quickly at the next level. He mentioned that Buttrick has to work on limiting his turnovers and will need to get stronger. Seems like pretty standard stuff for a player going from high school to a Division I program.
Donahue came away really impressed with how much of a leader Buttrick was during his high school career. “Trent was the clear leader on our team. We had a senior-laden class with many quiet leaders who led by just example,” Donahue said. “Trent was both the leader vocally and by actions. Trent was always first to practice and by far the last player to leave as he was constantly working on his game.”
Buttrick had an unorthodox way of getting his squad ready on game days. “Trent gathered the team for huddles and actually instituted a team meditation with soothing music before the game to get everyone’s mind right,” Donahue said. “For a young man to get the team to forgo the usual move of blasting music pregame was very impressive.”
So, how did coach Chambers discover this kid from Florida? Well, one of Buttrick’s older brothers, who tried out for the Penn State basketball team, actually contacted assistant coach Dwayne Anderson and showed him game film of Trent. Anderson liked what he saw and reached out to Donahue — then after watching more film and witnessing Buttrick play in person, it eventually led to an offer from Chambers.
Donahue mentioned that Buttrick had worked out for other teams and even had a few other scholarship offers, but Penn State was always his dream school. “It’s funny how Trent had to move 1,000 miles away from PSU to get noticed by them.”
This is home 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/S4OXoFUtxm
— Trent Buttrick (@Trent_Buttrick) March 29, 2017
Donahue thinks that Buttrick will be successful at the next level because of his total belief in himself. “I had encouraged him to accept an offer before the season so he could be sure to have college paid for. He said, ‘I believe in myself and want to take a chance that I have a great season and get some better offers.’ For a young man to take a gamble on himself and have it pay off leaves no doubt in my mind he will succeed.”
Buttrick possesses a tireless work ethic. Donahue said he would have to force Buttrick to take days off. However, he would find out that Buttrick played pick-up games on those days anyway against his coach’s wishes.
While we’ll have to wait until next season to see what kind of role Buttrick will have on the team, take a look at the skill set that he’ll bring to the hardwood at the BJC.