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Illinois Basketball Film Review: CG Jase Butler

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Illinois Basketball Hosts Top 2025 Prospect

Illinois Basketball Film Review: CG Jase Butler

With Morez Johnson Jr. and Jason Jakstys committed in the class of 2024, Brad Underwood and Illinois basketball have locked down the future of the frontcourt. However, after a very turbulent 12 months, the backcourt picture is a lot less clear. Ty Rodgers is plugging the hole in the starting lineup, and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn has shown flashes of elite talent. However, with Terrence Shannon Jr., Justin Harmon, and Marcus Domask out of eligibility next season, the Illini need to add a guard in 2024. On Wednesday they did that with the commitment of Jase Butler from Point Reyes Station, California.

The Player

Butler is a big guard at 6’4″ with broad shoulders. He’s listed at 180 pounds on 247 Sports, I’m not sure how up to date that number is. Skyy Clark was listed at 195, as was Brandin Podziemski, I’d guess Butler is 190-ish or will be when he arrives on campus. Butler uses this size to his full advantage, overpowering smaller guards. The lefty has a nice-looking stroke from three, but his numbers don’t jump off the page (31% from three per Synergy Sports in AAU). Bulter can also punish you in the midrange if you run him off the line.

Butler pairs his size with a smooth, calm demeanor on the ball. He is a skilled facilitator who will punish teams that bring extra attention to him. Without the top end athleticism against elite defenders, that smoothness is a necessity. Instead of blowing by and over defenders, Butler bullies and out-crafts them.

The Resume

Currently there isn’t much to go by in this regard. Rivals and ESPN do not have a ranking for Butler. However according to Rob Cassidy he will appear in the next Rivals 150. He is the 163rd ranked player on 247, good for a 3-star ranking. Illinois is currently his only Power 5 offer. Colorado State, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis and UCSB have also offered the California native.

As a Junior Butler won MCAL (Marin County Athletic League) player of the year, as well as the Marin Independent Journal IJ Player of the Year. Butler’s Branson team won the MCAL and made it to the CIF Division II second round before falling to Weston Ranch. Butler’s lead recruiter is Chester Frazier, who has a history of finding gems in the rough in his time at Kansas State and Virginia Tech. It will also be interesting to see if he can take an athletic leap with college weight training and nutrition.

The Fit

After a steady stream of top 100 guards Butler’s resume might be a little underwhelming for some. However, recently the guard recruitment has led to large turnover, destabilizing the year over year growth. There will be little pressure for Butler to produce right away, allowing him to adjust to the step up in competition. Once he is ready, he can provide a calm to counterbalance the chaos of a DGL style guard. Underwood has never been shy about playing multiple guards together, and with his size Butler can slide next to any profile in the backcourt. In fact, at Branson last year he played alongside two smaller guards often operating off the ball offensively and playing on the bottom of a 3-2 zone defensively.

Butler is a load going to the basket, especially on his dominant left hand. He can absorb contact and plays off two feet, allowing him to finish despite not having great vertical pop:

Butler is very comfy getting to his pull up, with every move cool and calculated. Butler also has a bag of hesitations and fakes to allow himself to get to the basket:

With his size, he can get into the paint with ease, where he shows good vision for cutters. It can be very hard to predict what Butler does when he gets to his spots. He also is very confident with throwing skip passes when he goes left:

The staff locking in Butler so quickly shows they believe in his fit no matter what happens with their guard situation. Currently the scholarship guards on the roster with eligibility next year are Sencire Harris, DGL, Nico Moretti, AJ Redd and Ty Rodgers if you count him. Mikey Lewis took an official visit to Champaign, and then cancelled his visit to perceived leader LSU. Both Butler and Lewis are combo guards. Lewis is the 78th ranked player in the class on 247 and has a much more impressive offer list.

Will Illinois take both? It’s possible, but unlikely in my opinion. The Illini have taken a transfer guard in every offseason since the portal opened. And, while Lewis is a very talented player, he has a very similar profile to DGL. Overlap has led to turnover, and the Illini will need as much continuity as they can squeeze in today’s landscape. Taking both could also endanger them looking at Jeremiah Fears, who has been considering a reclass into 2024.

Brian is a former sports writer for the Daily Illini who has been covering Illinois Basketball for over 5 years. Brian is now the lead basketball reporter for Armchair Illini, the go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He has had work published on Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, USA Today and more.

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