Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Way Back Wednesday: Pain Inevitable, Suffering Optional For Littlestown's Sauvageau

The recovery process has been slow but somewhat promising for Littlestown’s Xavier Sauvageau. The incoming senior long distance runner suffered a debilitating hip injury that sidelined him for the entire 2012 track season. 
Through physical therapy, steady core work, a truckload of Biofreeze pain reliever, Sauvageau feels rejuvenated. He’s focused on retaining the leg strength and the endurance that catapulted him to a marquee and memorable 2011 cross country campaign.
Sauvageau provided moral support as the Bolts captured a Division C YAIAA crown with a 7-0 record. Though he kept busy by building strength in the weight room and pushing the development of his younger brother, Isaiah Sauvageau, Sauvageau described the past spring as a depressing episode of his stellar three-year career. 
 “It was probably the worst six months of my life,” Sauvageau said.
 “I tried to get through it. I tried work harder with the things I could do. I was doing a lot of stretching. I’ve gotten so much more flexible. I’ve developed a lot more upper body strength. I still had to support the team even though I wasn’t running. It was hard, but it feels good coming back.”
Savageau sustained the injury prior to the spring season. A great deal of pain hindered his pre-season workouts. 
“I’ve got a knot in my hip and lower back,” said Sauvageau. “The doctors didn’t really diagnose it. They said it was messed up scar tissue. The X-rays came out clean. The MRI came out pretty much clean, they called it a ‘bump,’ I didn’t know exactly what it was.”
Sauvageau said his father pinpointed it as a growth defect, a genetic issue.
“My brother Chris had it his junior year,” Xavier Sauvageau said. “He didn’t exactly say what it was, but it’s painful.”
Limber from a 30-minute run at Littlestown’s track, Sauvageau jogged home Monday night and finally felt free of discomfort. Sauvageau, who also plays soccer at Littlestown, is subscribed to a running program that gradually increases mileage. 
Littlestown cross country coach Dan Lawrence is eager to return the alpha dog of his depth-lacking team. Though Sauvageau’s spirits were dampened, Lawrence felt his front runner handled the situation the best way possible.
“It’s difficult to watch someone who is so into running on the sidelines,” Lawrence said. “You see him in class every day and you just know he just wanted to be out there so much. My heart kind of was breaking for him. But, I also knew he was doing the right thing in taking it slow, taking the track season off and trying to get stronger again. The family’s had experience with this and I think they knew (shutting it down) was the right thing to do.”
This summer, Sauvageau plans on visiting a slew of potential NCAA destinations. While academics are first and foremost in Sauvageau’s decision, he said he’d like to prolong his cross-country and track career at the next level.
“It’s going to be tough talking to coaches, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Sauvageau said. “Right now, I’m just trying to get distance in and just get back in shape. And then foot speed will come, throughout the fall.”
Sauvageau rattled off Richmond, Lipscomb, and Coastal Carolina as potential NCAA destinations. 
He’s not looking too far ahead yet. Thoughts about navigating courses, picking off runners on straightaways, and darting up shin-slaying hills are now more inviting. 
“Chris was really encouraging,” Sauvageau said. “He helped me out a lot with the mental part of it. You have to push through it and soldier on.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Meriden's Late Bloomer Spikes To Take JUCO route

At long last, Timothy Spikes has penned his letter of intent to play at Cincinnati State Tech.

 Spikes, a cerebral veteran guard out of Meriden, Conn., is known for his instinctive style of play and a highly-pressurized wall-to-wall defense.

Spikes, once considered a mid-major talent, took the long route to the collegiate ranks.

After post-graduate stops at StillWater Christian in Montana and Shooting For Greatness Academy (Raleigh, NC), Spikes arrives battled-tested and eager for an instant impact.

"What really factored into my decision is the fact that I'll be playing alongside a great freshman in Desmond Crosby," said Spikes, citing the handle and natural playmaking of the electrifying 5-foot-9 Crosby.

"As far as my role on the team, I think it will be based on defense first and foremost. Coach Tate, he said he needs dogs on the court. So, I'm looking to provide on the defensive end to the best of my abilities. My offense will come from great defense and just looking to make the right decisions on the court. Anything that will lead to the win, I'm willing to do."

Spikes, now 20, arrived at a recent realization that he was on a race against time.

 He used the NFL career of his father, Rahshon Spikes, as motivation.

Aware that some regard the NFL as symbolic for "Not For Long," Spikes understood the magnitude of the time factor. He needed to use his time wisely in finding a school in which he could thrive, aa veritable launchpad to a Division-I opportunity.

Spikes said his prep school experience prepared him for the challenges of the ensuing level.

"Shooting for greatness really helped me benefit from the experience of playing against top-level players, playing against elite competition night in and night out," said Spikes.

"It also allowed me to adjust to playing with a shot clock and manage the game better.

There are a lot of distractions that come with becoming what nobody thinks you can become, so prep school allowed me to see what I could do against top players. It gave me the confidence to move forward."

Spikes was very much a late bloomer recruit at Platt High School (Meriden, Conn.), where he played just 39 games.

 Developing a scorer's mentality and enabling his defensive grit to create offensive buckets, Spikes awoke at Shooting 4 Greatness.

Spikes averaged 11.6 points and five boards, emerging into a key defensive catalyst en route to a 25-9 overall record.

Longer hours in the gym made basketball a sustained focus for Spikes, who developed into a dependable knock down shooter for the first time in his career.

Spikes is the son of legendary CT football player Rahshon Spikes.

Rahshon Spikes, one of Connecticut's best all-time running backs at Maloney High, rushed for 6,876 yards during an illustrious career.

He played with both the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers while also spending time in Europe and in the Canadian Football League.

Spikes, who improved in categories such as his catch-and-stick game and overall confidence, said the athletic bloodline propelled him to up his workload.

The killer instinct runs in his genes, after all.

"It gave me a lot of motivation because I got to witness my father play professionally and make it to the NFL when I was growing up," Spikes said.

"There's still a lot of work to do, but I'm just happy I've made it this far and am in the right place going forward."

Spikes made his reputation off confrontational, lockdown defense.

After mastering the role of stopper, a multi-layered offensive skill-set began to follow and eventually blossom.

The combination helped Spikes garner interest from Division-I Central Connecticut State University, which recently hired Donyell Marshall to replace Howie Dickenman.

 Liberty University, another Division-I program, also expressed interest in Spikes.

Surrounding himself with top-profile competition has bolstered Spikes' hunger for the game.

He spent many summers playing against Chaise Daniels, now a bruising forward at Quinnipiac.

Raheim Robinson, a high-octane and high-scoring guard out of Hartford, is another local talent who has helped spur Spikes' quick development.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

TBT: Fryfogle Relished Storied Senior Season

South Western senior Carnie Fryfogle III carried a vanilla milk shake to his table at Dutch Country Diner in Hanover (Pa.), clutching it with the same fervor that a father does his newborn son.

“You see this,” said Fryfogle, pointing to his milk shake. “I treat this like the lacrosse ball.  You can’t ever let it hit the ground. That would be foul. That would be criminal.”

For the South Western boys’ lacrosse team, Fryfogle has more than carry the ball. He’s carried the scoring mantle. He’s shouldered the burden of a leader.

Fryfogle rips shots, absorbs the brutal hits in front of the net and induces slides. Most important, the light but chiseled middie facilitates the high-low game that his father -- South Western head coach Carnie Fryfogle Jr. -- preaches.

“Our focus as a team is always to beat some kids down, to play tough and blanketing defense, to lock up on the top scorer,” said Fryfogle, who scored 44 goals and assisted on 33 others for the Mustangs this season.

“My Dad and I both hate to lose. That’s something we’ve always shared, just that distaste for losing.

"We hate it. When I was a young kid, we would play everything from T-ball to a simple game of cards and he’d always do everything in his power to beat me. He put some pressure on me about playing lacrosse. It almost became an everyday thing, something he couldn’t let go. Finally I just said, ‘yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll play.’”

Dad knows best.

 Fryfogle III’s blend of stick skills and nose for the net earned him a spot on the varsity team during his freshman season.

By the season’s end, Fryfogle developed a knack for scoring contested shots and dumping in passes after inducing a slide. His penchant for keeping possessions alive, hunting for his shot on the fly allowed his stock to balloon. His net vision has drawn comparisons to Kevin Interlicchio, the Johns Hopkins attackman whose scoring prowess re-wrote the record books at perennial power Yorktown (N.Y.).

Fryfogle III’s ability to bulldoze through traffic has attracted NCAA suitors such as Gettysburg, Essex College (Md.), and Elizabethtown.
Fryfogle, 18, said he’s leaning towards Essex, but he remains undecided.

His dad hails from nearby Carrol County. He was known for his four-year career as a running back in football and a midfielder in lacrosse at South Carrol High School.

“The one game my Dad was being recruited,” said Fryfogle III, “he blew out his knee.”

While sustaining that fatal blow may have tarnished Fryfogle Jr.’s athletic career, it did nothing to dampen his dad's competitive spirit.

“From as long back as I can remember, my Dad has given me speeches about what it takes to be the best, what it takes to throttle the competition, and what it takes to get the edge on the guy out there who maybe working just as hard as you,” Fryfogle III said.

Fryfogle III learned the game as a bone-thin sixth grader on the Mustangs lacrosse club team. He was thrust into the role of the senior savior this season. During critical stages, Fryfogle put what seemed to be a patchwork team derailed by a rash of early injuries on his shouldes.

Fryfogle morphed into a prolific scorer, exploding for five goals during the Mustangs' 13-12 double overtime victory over Susquehannock.

During that game, which featured a matchup between Susquehannock’s Zach Speights (four goals), the Mustangs stormed back from an 11-8 deficit for the signature victory.

Fryfogle also was impressive during an 11-9 triumph over Central York  on May 1. In that game, which Fryfogle said was the high-water mark of the season, he scored three goals and dealt out three assists. The win avenged a 15-10 loss on April 10.

Rivalry games seem to have some extra juice for Fryfogle. Against cross-town rival Spring Grove, Fryfogle led a 13-5 pelting with four goals and a game-high 12 ground balls. Against New Oxford, Fryfogle scored five goals and had three assists.

Fryfogle's presence has frequently lured double teams, opening up seams for a cluster of cutters. That's even as he entered the season a marked man.

During the season opener, a 17-5 victory over York Suburban, Fryfogle turned in a seven-goal, four-assist barrage.

It hasn't hurt that close friend Cody Mai has emerged as a key player, especially at the urging of Fryfogle's father.

Partly because of the confidence he’s always had in his teammate and partly at his father’s urging, Fryfogle III helped accelerate the production of Cody Mai.

Both Fryfogles implored Mai to be more aggressive this season and hunt for his shot. Mai has found the trigger, scoring 29 goals and adding 19 assists.

With teammate Rich Delea, who had 36 goals, they give South Western three legitimate scoring threats.

Fryfogle Jr. did not have the luxury of playing his high school games in the traditional lacrosse hotbed of Maryland. Despite his gaudy stats, Fryfogle III hasn’t earned the same star status as Maryland area players of similar style and make-up.

However, Fryfogle has proven he can hold his own with players from all over the country. He got a taste of elevated competition this summer when he played for the Bryne National All American team and competed in the prestigious Top 205 camp in Towson, Md.

“It was sweet,” said Fryfogle of the experience. “My team clicked from the very beginning.

"With the higher level of competition, everything is so much quicker. The game just goes by so quick, considering the ball never hits the ground. You’ve got to carry it with pride and a sense of value. You can’t ever let the ball drop.”

Just like his beloved milkshake.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Former Stepinac Star Guerra Still Hungry

Ky Guerra was one of the least acclaimed recruits at the CYP tournament in Port Chester this weekend, albeit the former Stepinac star thrived.

Flanked by high-profile Division-I talent such as Jordan Tucker, Rawle Alkins and Mamadou Diallo throughout tourney, the 5-foot-11 Guerra registered his presence with a 14-point second half in team High-Major's 78-74 victory over the Westchester/Harlem Jets.

Beacon native and former Kennedy Catholic star Elijah Hughes was the catalyst for High Major, dropping 25 points and showcasing improved and fearless shooting ability.

Hughes, headed to East Carolina, was one of the Westchester area's most dynamic guards before bolting for South Kent Prep (CT).

 Guerra, who spent a post-graduate year at The Kent School after a high-scoring senior season at Stepinac, has transferred his role into more of an offense orchestrating point guard.

At Stepinac, where he held a 93 GPA, Guerra shredded box-and-ones and displayed deep shooting range.

"I think my point guard skills became more defined," said Guerra of his transitioned role at The Kent School.

"I was definitely a point guard before. At Kent, I was able to showcase my passing ability, finding shooters and cutters and also displaying a very improved ball-handling ability as well as managing the game and controlling the pace."

During his stay at Stepinac, Guerra starred alongside 6-foot-8 sharpshooter Tucker.

Tucker, who upped his profile following a performance at the NBA Top 100 camp last summer, remains one of the nation's most prized recruits.

At Kent, Guerra's team was bolstered by balance.

He began to take more responsibility in creating and took a strong sense of pride in bettering his teammates.

The result was an All New England selection.

"He morphed into more of a playmaker and he can still shoot the hell out of the ball," said High-Major coach Tom Sampogna.

"I think (the prep year) was a huge improvement for Ky. He's a legit 5-foot-11 right now. He's put on some weight, about 10-15 pounds, so he's a solid 160. He put up a lot of points (at Stepinac) playing against the Molloys, the Christ the Kings. He's not losing any value on his recruiting. I think he can help some schools at the Northeast Conference level."

Guerra has high interest from St. Francis N.Y. in Brooklyn, where legendary Peekskill guard Ricky Cadell played. Sacred Heart University has also taken interest in Guerra.

"I think performing at CYP only shows that I can play with the best of them," Guerra said.

"I know how to play for my size and I know what my strengths are, so I always try to play under control. My IQ for the game sometimes takes over, where I don't worry about the talent level on the court with me. I just play my game."

At which future hardwood home will he play his game?

"I'm still looking for the best fit," Guerra said.

"I hope to land at a spot that gives me the best chance to excel athletically and academically."

Friday, March 18, 2016

With Offers On The Table, Montague Still Not Close To Finished Product

The conversations have ranged from excited to wistful to comical, albeit there are absolutely no regrets. There is, however, some contemplation of the what-ifs.

These conversations take place between Shawn Montague, Luis Cartagena, and Nick DeGennaro, once inexperienced teammates on a youth-laden Yorktown High roster over-packed with guards.

"We talk all the time about what would happen if all three of us (were at Yorktown) this year," said Montague, a 6-foot-6 senior at Canterbury Prep and currently one of the northeast area's most highly-acclaimed, high-upside, unsigned Class of 2016 recruits.

"We could have done some great things together, I'll tell you that. My sophomore year at Yorktown, we struggled but we had great players like Mason Dyslin, Ricky Corrado, and Anthony Coutsouros. Those guys were a big part of our team and led by example."

Ahh, respect. Respect for one's elders shows character.

The high-character, high academics and high-rising of Montague has attracted Division-I programs all across the eastern seaboard.

Manhattan, Bryant, Fairfield, Central Connecticut, Rider, Chattanooga, Canisius, New Orleans, and Seton Hall have all offered.

Boston U, Minnesota, and even Florida inquired at one point.

 Bryant, Manhattan, St. Bonaventure and suddenly Siena are all in aggressive pursuit of the 6-foot-6, 180-pound guard.

The past two seasons, the senior has evolved into a high-efficiency threat around the rim, displaying explosiveness on baseline drives and a deft transition game.

These factors initially molded Montague into an appealing fit for the souped-up brand of basketball enforced by Canterbury head coach Keith Rado.

Rado's consistent work with Montague has churned out a fundamentally sound prospect with an increased vertical. Montague arrived at the doorstep skinny, extremely raw, and still learning how to contribute at such a high caliber level.

 A stockpile of injuries opened up the opportunity for immediate meaningful playing time for Montague, who reclassified after playing sparingly at Yorktown as a sophomore.

Applying plenty of old school tactics, Rado will even have his players carrying bricks through arduous stretches of practice.

He emphasizes running and increased cardio work.

It's a necessity given the frenetic-paced identity of his program, which has long thrived on length and athleticism and an unwavering lungs burning attack.

Canterbury scored 110 points in a game this season, with Montague a linchpin in the system.

"Shawnie's athleticism is off the hook and he hasn't even come close to reaching his potential yet," said Rado, who starred at nearby Naugatuck (CT) and won a Division-II national championship under Dave Bike at (now Division-I) Sacred Heart.

"The thing with Shawn when he got here, the biggest thing was his aggressiveness. He was more of an East/West type of player. Now he's a North/South type of player. He's a kid that attacks the basket hard. He's a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter, he can shoot it with consistency. He's top-shelf all around. He's an even better kid than he is a player, which I think is most impressive about him."

 Montague's jumper, increased defensive IQ, above-the-rim finishes, and a package of off-the-dribble moves enabled him to transfer from strictly a pull-up threat to an instinctive playmaker.

A longtime devotee to the philosophy that making practice Hell renders the game Heaven, Redo describes a wowing improvement.

"He's brought up his intensity in practice," Redo said.

"I coached (Louisville guard) Donovan Mitchell as a sophomore, the area where he and Shawnie are both similar is athleticism. The big thing about Shawn is he will get to (Mitchell's) level. He didn't come in as a superstar, coming from one program to the other. He went from barely playing any varsity basketball to being one of the best players in the league."

While his game blossomed way up the Merritt Parkway, Montague still kept tabs on his former teammates in Westchester County.

Cartagena, who erupted at the tail end of his sophomore year, transferred to White Plains.

The hard attacking lefty averaged 20 points, three assists, three rebounds, and two steals as a senior this season.

 DeGennaro helped revive Yorktown under Kevin Downes, emerging into one of the Section's top scoring and creating threats with 18 points and five assists per game.

Montague can only smile at the notion of this triumvirate playing out their senior year together. He is still tight with both DeGennaro and Cartagena.

The trio, despite never being reunited on the court, vows to continue to provide moral support for each other as they open the next chapter in their careers.

And where will be next for Montague?

"Last Monday, St. Bonaventure came down to work him out. He went up to Siena on Wednesday," Redo said.

"San Diego is coming up on Monday. Utah, they're definitely showing a lot of interest right now. They're in the process of recruiting him. They love the film they just want to meet him in person."

Montague missed seven games this season, due to a concussion he sustained in the season-opener against Cheshire Academy.

He returned to get hot at the opportune time.

He dropped 27 points against Trinity Pawling, 24 vs Wilbraham & Monson, 25 v.s Taft, 25 v.s. Berkshire, and 20 v.s Hotchkiss. As a 17 PPG scorer, Montague was named first team Tri-State and third team All-New England.

"I plan to make my decision soon, I just want to go to a school where I can excel on and off the court," Montague said.

Redo noticed a change in Montague when he brought his team to the University of Connecticut for a summer workout.

Energized for a unique challenge, Montague held tough against Huskies guards such as Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis.

Montague's father, Anthony Montague, is Manhattanville's all-time leading scorer with 1,885 points from 1985-1989.

"My Dad emphasizes playing hard at all times, because you never know who is watching you," Montague said.

"He and my mother Linnie have pushed me like nobody else has, when nobody else would. I wouldn't be in the position I am in today without those two in my life."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Law & Tech's Moreno Thrives In Post-Season, Still Growing

When Larry Moreno arrived at revitalized Brooklyn Law & Tech High School as a severely undersized freshman with a pure left-handed sling shot and a rare abundance of confidence, Mike Levy and Kenny Pretlow saw a tiny dose of  promise.

They knew it would take some time for Moreno to fill out and find his niche as scorer and operator of offense. Time was certainly working on their side, as the ahead-of-his-class Moreno saw his first varsity minutes just a few months before his 14th birthday.

Then just 5-foot-6 and a generously listed 140 pounds, Moreno had a cartoonish look when paired up against bigger, veteran guards. Would immediate playing time be too much, too soon? Would his frail body get exposed at the varsity level?

The answer wasn't clear until the tail end of the season. Levy and Pretlow gambled with Moreno and got inconsistent results. Some nights, the hard-driving Dominican displayed comfort and maturity beyond his years--bagging 3-pointers in succession, shedding all fear of the trees in the post as he attacked the rim, soaring for rebounds, and sprawling on the floor for 50-50 balls.

Other nights, the gamble proved too risky. Moreno, who had bouts with inconsistency all season, had a couple of scoreless nights defined by ill-advised shots and well....callow freshman decision making. 

There's no risk factor associated with Moreno right now.

 The sophomore concluded the regular season averaging 20 points and six assists per game, emerging into one of the most prized guards in 'A.'

His 3-point shooting, shaky and inconsistent throughout his freshman year, took off in the playoffs.

He averaged 32 points, fully utilizing the scoring gifts Pretlow and Levy stumbled upon multiple years ago. He buried 16 3-pointers in three playoff games.

 And a steady evolution remains.

"He's about 5-foot-10 right now and still growing," said Levy. "He'll be playing for Castle AAUY on the Adidas Circuit 16U. He's got that hunger to his game. We noticed changes in him as he started watching Kobe highlights to get hyped for games. He also loves (Russel) Westbrook. Those are his guys because like them he doesn't shy away from big moments."

Has the now battle-tested sophomore displayed a flair for the end game?

"He's had three game winners this season and elevated his game to the next level in the playoffs, leading us to the quarterfinals. Next season, we return 11 players. I'd like to think of us as a favorite to win it with Larry as the top player in A as a junior."

Longtime New York City coach Kenny Pretlow, who was railroaded at Lincoln prior to joining the staff at Thomas Jefferson, said an uptick in confidence and a natural scoring engine propelled Moreno in the post-season.

"He's improved at shooting the ball tremendously, not only threes but his mid-range game as well," Pretlow said. "He is going to go by the first defender. His innate ability to score grew throughout the season." 

At only 15, Moreno is suddenly one of the more talked about guards in a city which has long carried a torch proudly for its tradition-rich high school basketball and surplus of (some overhyped) guards. While cognizant that the Felipe Lopez/Luis Flores comparisons are too much too soon, Pretlow says the end result could certainly be a Division-I recruit.

"I would say yes, he could play at the Division-I level," Pretlow said. "He should grow a little more. You need to remember, he's only 15."

A fast-growing 15, that is.

"I got a little taller and stronger and believed more in myself and the shots I could take," Moreno said.

"I always thought about something my uncle (Jonathon Delacruz) told me, which is I have to be more aggressive finding my shot and taking more shots and contributing to my team. He also told me I could never know what shots I was capable of hitting if I never took them."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Maryland Now Showing Interest In Elev8's Butts

Having de-committed from both Rutgers and Rhode Island, Leroy Butts has veteran experience understanding the inexact science that is the ever-evolving recruiting process.

Cognizant of the annual coaching carousal and merry-go-round of transfers in today's college basketball landscape, Butts will invest plenty of thought in his final decision. Maryland, behind assistant coach Dustin Clark, is now recruiting the versatile 6-foot-7 post-graduate in aggressive fashion.

They say the third time is a charm.

Butts, a battle-tested post-graduate who can play up to four positions and now provide rim protection (injuries to 6-foot-10 Levi Cook and 6-foot-11 Kasper Christiansen forced him to play bigger), hopes these words prove prophetic.

Butts, now averaging 15 points and eight boards at Elev8 Prep  (Delray Beach, FL) heads into the national tournament on Sunday with LaSalle, Virginia Tech, and nearby Florida Atlantic University also recruiting him. 

Delaware, High Point, and LaSalle have all offered the Washington, D.C. native.

“He’s wide open right now,” explained Elev8 head coach Chad Myers.

 Clark has expressed considerable interest lately, trekking to see the versatile 6-foot-7 4/3 in South Florida.

 Butts played alongside current Maryland poster boy and All-American candidate Melo Trimble at Bishop O’Connell HS, though Butts ended up transferring to Clinton Christian.

Florida Atlantic, now under 2004 NBA champion Michael Curry and longtime Philadelphia 76ers guard Eric Snow, was in attendance during Elev8’s thorough 101-57 thrashing of Impact Academy on Feb. 23.

Though Butts appeared Rhode Island-bound last June, the plans faltered when did not receive the ACT score projected for him.

Toting an increased all-around package, Butts’ evolution has occurred with higher emphasis on all the little details.

More adept with point-blank finishes, a thirst for 50-50 balls, and stronger around the rim, Butts also opened up a beyond-the-arc game.

His ball-handling and ability to create for himself while drawing bigger fowards out to him has paid dividends. Initially recruited by West Virginia and Tennessee while in high school, Butts' recruiting has been all over the place.

Rick Pitino and Louisville assistant Mike Balado watched Butts and since-departed 6-foot-11 Denmark import Christiansen during an October practice. 

With no apparent timetable, Butts is still wide open and not clinging to any favorites.

 This weekend will be a major source of exposure for the 20-year-old.

"He's put good weight on about 10-15 pounds this season," Myers said.

 "He's extended his range. He can shoot threes. He's got a better feel of how to play in ball screens, a better feel of how to guard bigger guys."

Myers said he's noticed a different player in Butts since an 11-point victory over Coastal Academy in Palm Beach Gardens last year. Elev8 was without its top scorer, 6-foot-5 catch-and-stick threat Kobie Eubanks (currently at Texas A & M) and 6-foot-11 Yankuba Sima (St. John's) was saddled with early foul trouble.

And so Butts took game-changing matters into his own hands.

 He got into the teeth of the defense for at the rim finishes.

He got loose for shallow water jumpers, steering Coastal's bigs away from the rim. Playing with unrivaled confidence and consistency, Butts' buckets and an electrifying one-handed dunk from then-PG guard Jamal Gregory enabled Elev8 to run away with it.