Former WVU Star Da'Sean Butler Signs Deal Overseas - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Former WVU Star Da'Sean Butler Signs Deal Overseas


Da'Sean Butler will get a chance at playing professional basketball this week after signing a two-week tryout contract with VEF Riga in Latvia.

The former WVU star, who ranks third all-time in program scoring, is boarding a plane Tuesday at noon and departing for a brand new experience with a game that has left him for too long.

"I have no words for it," Butler said Monday from Cincinnati, Ohio. "It's so new to me now, so I'm just looking forward to going over there and having the opportunity to just see where I'm at and go from there."

The tryout contract is set up in such a way for both sides to get a feel for the other and determine if it is in fact the right fit.

VEF Riga wants to be assured of the fact that Butler's knee has fully healed – which his agent, Chet Ervin, says is the case – and Butler needs to be sure he feels comfortable with the team. Once those two concerns are alleviated, he will have a fully guaranteed contract through the remainder of the season.

The contract will include a clause in which Butler could leave if the NBA resumes its season and return to his current affiliation with the San Antonio Spurs. As the league's lockout continues, though, more and more NBA players are looking to make the jump overseas, and Butler is one of them.

"It's been really frustrating, but at the same time, this is something that's been taking my mind off it," says Butler. "My agents have been waiting as long as I have for me to play and they've been really supportive of me since my injury and throughout my rehab and everything like that."

Butler will suit up for VEF Riga on Friday, though probably not with extended minutes due to his inexperience with the team. But even if he gets just one minute, it will be his first of professional basketball and the first minute he's played since that devastating knee injury in the Final Four loss to Duke.

The trip begins Tuesday, but he won't actually arrive in Latvia until Wednesday. While he travels from Cincinnati to New York to Poland and finally lands in his new city, his team will be taking on Khimky, a Russian squad that Butler's Spurs teammate Chris Quinn plays for.

If the two-week contract does extend to a full season, Butler will face off against former Mountaineer teammate Joe Alexander on Dec. 23 and again on Feb. 11.

He hasn't gotten a chance to speak with any players he knows in Europe since finding out his destination, so his plan now is to research Latvia and VEF Riga for the next 24 hours to learn as much as he can before he arrives.

"I've been looking into them with some things online as far as what I can see there and I really probably know just as much as you," Butler admits. "It's a new experience for me, so I've been looking all over the area to see what attractions are there and everything like that. I'm just trying to get familiar with it before I actually go."

When he gets there, Butler will be joining former Arizona State guard Curtis Millage and Michigan center Courtney Sims with VEF Riga.

Ervin says it's been a difficult process getting to this point since they were initially holding out until the NBA started back up again. Because that is looking less and less likely by the day, a different course of action needed to be taken. Butler needed to get on the court, wherever he may end up.

"For a lot of guys, the decision to go over to Europe is a lot different than the decision for Da'Sean. His was, No. 1, just to play – to get back on the court and get some game action," says Ervin. "That said, the second-most important thing is making sure it's a good fit for him and a place where he could do well. This is where we felt was the best thing for him."

Butler has played overseas before as part of the 2009 World University Games in Serbia, but this will be his first extended stay in a different country.

It's an opportunity to refocus himself on what it takes to compete and succeed in the game he loves rather than what it takes to rehab a knee injury.

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