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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Natalie Butler's transfer to UConn is official

The comings and goings continue for the defending national champions.

 A day after UConn announced that rising senior guard Brianna Banks would be transferring it was announced that reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Natalie Butler is official.

Butler is a 6-foot-5 rising sophomore from Fairfax Station, Va. and daughter of former Navy men's basketball star Vernon Butler. She averaged 13.9 points, 13.3 rebounds (ranking fifth nationally and first among freshmen) and 1.8 blocked shots per game as a freshman at Georgetown. Butler had 24 double-doubles and had three 20 rebound games. She will have to sit out the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

She is the first Division I transfer for UConn since Jessica McCormack came in from Washington but she never played in a regular-season game for the Huskies. Christine Rigby and Brittany Hunter are other players who have transferred to UConn from another Division I program.

"We don't do this," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "In 30 years I have been here, many three or four (Division I transfers) unless it is a game changer and she is a going to be a game changer for us no question about it.

"I asked her 'how many 6-5 kids did you play against this year?' She said 'none, I don't think.' I said 'we didn't play against many in our league. I looked in the ACC and there aren't many in that league. I checked in the Big Ten in that league and I said you 'you are kind of unique.' I think she has a chance to have a huge impact on our team."

Butler was one of the few bright spots in a difficult year at Georgetown. Keith Brown was suspended indefinitely for what the university termed unprofessional behavior and he resigned eight days later. Former WNBA head and assistant coach Jim Lewis came in and served as the interim head coach as the Hoyas finished with an 11-21 record. Georgetown hired former assistant coach Natasha Adair as the head coach. With all that uncertainty, Butler was among those who decided to move on. She reached out to UConn which was not involved in her recruiting coming out of high school but was interested when given a second chance.

"She was one of those kids and she said it herself, I didn't play much and then all of a sudden she was kind of a late bloomer," Auriemma said. "She averaged a double double coming out of high school and playing 30 something minutes and you are 6-5, have really good skills and all of a sudden you end up at UConn.

"I remember I called Doug Bruno and said 'Doug, this kid is interested in transferring, give me a rundown.' He said 'look she is not Stefanie Dolson.' I said 'well when Stefanie Dolson was her age, Stefanie Dolson wasn't Stefanie Dolson.' I think she can develop into somebody just like that, do a lot of those things that Stefanie did, she is a hard worker, her mom and dad are incredibly supportive of her, she wants to be great and I think that ultimately why she chose to play for us because she wants to be great, she almost got away with it.



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