Tiara Butler sees limited minutes in SU career despite being highly recruited out of high school

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Quentin Hillsman had to repeat himself“Tiara,” he shouted. “Tiara,” he said again, before pausing. “Tiara!”Tiara Butler, a fifth-year senior, had never heard her name called this early in a game. But once she heard that Hillsman was putting her in the game, she left her spot at the end of Syracuse’s bench and went to the scorers table with the demeanor of someone who’s done it may times before.“Coach Q always has something up his sleeve,” Butler said. “It was a great experience to be in the moment and to have my Senior Day that I’ve worked so hard for.”But Butler’s experience hasn’t matched what’s normally expected of a highly rated recruit.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textComing out of high school, she had offers from schools like Tennessee, Georgetown and North Carolina State — and many more she couldn’t remember. But, partially due to injuries, she was never able to develop into the player that people had thought she would be.In her four seasons at No. 23 SU (20-8, 10-5 Atlantic Coast) — which plays Clemson (9-18, 1-13) on Thursday at 7 p.m. — she’s scored a total of 22 points in just 174 minutes, but has found other ways to contribute to the program.In Butler’s first-ever game — an 81-42 win over Long Beach State in 2011 — she recorded 13 minutes. It was the most she’s played in a game during her SU career.“Out of high school, she was a top 70 player in the country, I believe,” Hillsman said. “She had a lot of potential coming in.”Hillsman was expecting the player that he offered a scholarship to as a 14-year-old after seeing her for just three days at his basketball camp. But he instead got a player that never reached the cusp of playing significant minutes.Injuries have been partially to blame. Last season she suffered a bone spur in her left foot that kept her from being 100 percent. Hillsman said injuries have kept her from ever getting on track.“It’s definitely tough when you see injuries change a career like that,” SU point guard Alexis Peterson said. “But Tiara has been great in other aspects. Even though she may not have had the athletic career, she influenced this program.”When SU’s equipment manager approached Butler — an interior design major — about designing the practice jersey, she didn’t hesitate. On the back, it says “respect everyone, fear no one.” When she asked her teammates for help on it, they jokingly told her that she was the designer and should do it on her own.She was a voice of wisdom to young players. When Peterson was a freshman, it was often Butler that pulled her aside for one-on-one conversations about the ins and outs of the program.Now, she’s looking for graduate assistant jobs — and with the assistance of Hillsman — might have opportunities.“She’s been stable, she understands everything we’re trying to do,” Hillsman said. “She’s a leader for us, she’s been around here for five years and she knows what to expect.”On Sunday, she received a dose of the unexpected when Hillsman called her in with 17:27 left in the first half. When she got in the game, she took a shot off the dribble that bounced off the rim. On the other end of the court, she committed a foul outside of the 3-point line as Hillsman’s face tensed up.Just a minute and a half minutes into her stint, she took back her normal spot on the bench, picked up her towel to wipe the sweat off her face and took a sip of water. When Peterson ran down the bench for high-fives after subbing out, she forgot to slap hands with Butler, who left her hand up as Peterson walked up to her seat.Butler never became that player — the one that players like Peterson grew into — but it’s not something she dwells on.“I don’t have any regrets. No regrets,” Butler said. “I’ve learned so much. The growth that’s there, that’s something you have to go through situations in order to learn.” Comments Published on February 26, 2015 at 12:12 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3last_img

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