Former NBA player and Wisconsin Badger Brian Butch returned to Sparta High School on Friday to run a boys basketball camp, largely similar to the girls camp he conducted on Monday - with only a few slight differences here and there.
“I think the biggest difference here is the boys program has made a turn. This is the first time they’ve had this many wins in a long time,” offered Butch.
“They’ve started to put the work in and they’ve started to see the turn. Now they can’t be satisfied with a little success,” he continued. “I think that’s one of the things we’ve got to emphasize to them today. You know you’ve done some things and that’s a start, but you can’t be satisfied with a little success, you’ve got to be able to push through and continue to grow that”
The camps were similar in the sense that Butch and his academy director, Logan Floral, really stressed the basics throughout the day.
They spoke of “laying a good foundation” to improve and the boys did various drills throughout the camp related to ball handling, footwork and shooting.
Butch and Floral encouraged the boys to do these drills at “game speed”.
Sparta boys basketball coach Phil Yahnke, who contacted Butch to come do a camp, said he wants to make it a yearly occurrence.
“They stress fundamental basketball skills and that’s what every kid needs to work more on from the earliest stages all the way on up through even the professional ranks,” said Yahnke. “So developing those skills is very very important.”
Butch and his team tailor their camps to what each team needs.
Yahnke says that he and Butch had a discussion prior to the camp and Yahnke asked Butch to focus on footwork and getting the players to stay in a more athletic position instead of playing “straight up”.
Butch started doing these camps seven years ago, but his journey playing basketball has been much longer than that. He started playing basketball around kindergarten and he immediately fell in love with the game.
In eighth grade, Butch realized that basketball could be something that he could be very good at and he could possibly turn it into a career.
In high school, Butch was a two-time Wisconsin State Player of the year and he broke many records at Appleton High School.
He says that he pretty much could’ve went to any Division 1 college that he wanted, but he chose to go to the University of Wisconsin - Madison to play for the Badgers.
“I’m proud of where I came from. I’m proud of being from Wisconsin. I’m proud of this state.” Butch said. “Either you’re a Wisconsin person and you get it, or you’re not”
After a successful collegiate career at Wisconsin, Butch’s journey took him around the world.
He played in Spain, then Germany and Greece and eventually moved into NBA’s D league in Bakersfield, where became a D league MVP, which led him to be called up to the Denver Nuggets.
Butch injured his knee while playing for the Nuggets and had to heal for 15 months before he could play again.
He went back to the D league to rehab, before he was then called up again – this time to play for the Charlotte Hornets.
Bad luck struck again, however, and Butch reinjured his knee just 30 minutes before leaving for the team’s first preseason game.
After another period of healing, Butch finished up that season in Bakersfield.
He played two more seasons there before heading back overseas to play in the Philippines, Dubai and, most recently, Japan.
Butch has spent 10 years playing basketball professionally and he says he isn’t sure where he is headed next; he currently doesn’t have a plan for next season.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” concluded Butch.

Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876