Da'Sean Butler Working Toward Return to Court - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Da'Sean Butler Working Toward Return to Court

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MORGANTOWN -

Da'Sean Butler is ready to give his left knee one more test.

The former West Virginia basketball star, who led the Mountaineers to the Final Four before suffering a knee injury that would change his fortunes on the court, is currently working to get back to playing the game he loves.

"I would say I'm going to give an opportunity to myself to play," Butler says while strapping on his knee brace for a practice session with former WVU teammates John Flowers and Devin Ebanks.

Butler spent last season working as a graduate assistant on Bob Huggins' staff at his alma mater, learning more about the game of basketball from a different viewpoint. He could have decided to continue on the path to coaching, but as a 25-year-old who loves the game, he feels that he can't pass on the chance to play it while he's still young enough to do so.

"I think this year was big for me because I go tot learn a lot about basketball and learn how much I miss it and how much fun it was for me to play," says Butler. "It goes off in your head like, all right, cool, I need to be doing what I love to do."

After multiple surgeries to repair the damage that originated when WVU took on Duke in Indianapolis back in 2010, Butler has learned that his idea of what the rehabilitation process would be was far from reality.

He thought when he first worked to get back on the court that once he returned, he would be back to that Final Four Da'Sean Butler, the one who was counted on to make all of the big shots in crunch time to win a Big East Tournament Championship.

That just has not been the case.

"It's just a bunch of stuff that came with maturity, just dieting and staying on task and making sure I keep my body and take care of my body," he says. "I didn't realize how much of your body – granted, as stupid as it sounds – how much of your body is your business. In the game of basketball, professionally, you've got to take care of your business. I didn't really do too well at that early on."

Butler, a second-round draft pick of the Miami Heat, had stops in San Antonio with the Spurs and in Austin with the NBA D-League's Toros, in addition to briefly accepting a spot overseas with Latvia's VEF Riga.

He says in those stints with professional players and coaches, he learned plenty that he utilizes now. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich taught him how to be a professional and what can happen if you don't carry yourself that way on and off the court.

"You don't want to waste time," says Butler. "Why come here and cheat yourself? Why go in the weight room and cheat yourself? Why cheat yourself in general when you have the opportunity to go out and make something of yourself?"

So, now he pushes himself. With no intention to cheat himself out of whatever basketball he may have left, he works out constantly at West Virginia's practice facility along with Flowers and Ebanks.

All three players are looking for their next opportunity, with Flowers just returning from a contract in France and Ebanks entering the offseason as an NBA free agent.

"I would just say it's just like any other time on the court," Butler says. "I like being on the court with people who like to work hard and get better and I know John and Devin just want to get better.

"It's just the summer of opportunities."

Butler says in the time he worked on the bench with WVU this past season, he learned more about himself as well as the game. He learned that as a coach, just like he was as a player, he is impatient.

When he played for the Mountaineers, he wanted to see every shot he took fall through the net and he got agitated when it didn't. As he worked with a struggling WVU squad, he expected to see results that rarely showed and he again felt that sting of impatience.

Now he knows he must conquer those feelings if he is to find the success he wants as an athlete.

Butler has reordered his priorities and given his agents the green light to find any and all opportunities to get him in a situation where he can show what he remains capable of doing with a basketball in his hands.

"I couldn't care less where I start at, it's more about where I end up going," says Butler. "I'm going to work hard wherever I go. I don't care if it's the third division in the worst league in Europe. Sooner or later, I'll get my opportunity to go and play against what everybody calls the real pros – the NBA or overseas, wherever it is. I'll go from there."

It's a start that Butler has experienced before, but always with the same set back coming in the form of that left knee.

He is determined this time to overcome it, to understand its limitations, but to never let them hinder him in practice or in a game setting. There are only so many opportunities, and Butler knows he must seize his now. 

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