Butler, tugging our heartstrings from the Heartland, embodies the college spirit, at least the one we remember just fifteen years ago, before the game was Bogarted by the one-and-done prodigies who use the classroom as a chalkboard funnel toward their first sneaker deal.
If there's any redemption in the teen idol leaping to the NBA, it's the room he leaves for teams like Butler, whose seniors actually take their own tests and find there's something to this whole college degree thing. Phenoms like John Wall, Carmelo, and Kemba aside, the gap between a freshman and a senior is wider than a few chest hairs. Basketball, despite ESPN's attempt to frame the game as an embellished slam-dunk contest, is still a team endeavor. Butler has proved that for two years.