Natalie Butler was only a junior at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia when Fairfax Stars AAU Executive Director Aggie McCormick saw her play. It was then that she knew that Butler, a 6-foot-5 center from Fairfax Station, Va., possessed exceptional long-term potential.
Following one season at Georgetown, Butler has decided to transfer to UConn, a program where the coaches and players chase greatness daily. She visited UConn earlier this month before making her decision.
“I’m surprised that a lot of people did not see the potential that I did,’’ McCormick said. “When I saw her on the floor as a junior playing at her high school, I knew she was going to be great. She will be great. She’s All-American great. Her footwork is unbelievable. Her speed is unbelievable for a big. Her work ethic is unbelievable for a big.’’
Butler will be unable to play next season for the two-time defending national champion Huskies due to NCAA transfer rules. However, she has three years of eligibility remaining.
“I’m happy for her,’’ McCormick said. “(UConn coach) Geno (Auriemma) will do great things with her. She wants to play at the next level and I think that he’ll get her ready to do that.’’
Butler averaged 13.9 points and 13.3 rebounds in 36.2 minutes and started all 32 games for the Hoyas (11-21) this past season. She was a unanimous selection as the Big East Freshman of the Year and was also named second team all-conference.
Butler, who twice had 20 rebounds in a game, was ranked fifth nationally in rebounding and ninth in double-doubles (24). This type of success at the college level followed her senior year at Lake Braddock in which she averaged 26.2 points, 17.8 rebounds and 10.1 blocks.
“None of this surprises me,’’ McCormick said.
The decision by Butler to transfer comes after a tumultuous season at Georgetown. Head coach Keith Brown resigned Oct. 10, eight days after he was suspended indefinitely in the wake of accusations of unprofessional behavior. Jim Lewis was then named interim head coach.
Natasha Adair was ultimately hired as the Hoyas’ new head coach April 14.
McCormick has no doubt that Butler will fit in well at UConn.
“Her work ethic is absolutely unbelievable,’’ McCormick said. “Geno will absolutely love this child. She’s dedicated. She works hard. When she came into our conditioning training (with the Fairfax Stars) she would run the floor like the guards. So he’s just going to love her. And I think with a year under his tutelage and his staff’s tutelage, you think Natalie had a great year this year, wait till she comes back because she does have to sit out a year. I’m excited.’’