This past weekend, Phenom Hoops had the privilege of hosting our annual team camp, which featured talented individuals and title-contending teams at every turn. Of all the quality programs on display, Butler High School arguably stood out as much as any team in attendance. They didn’t win every single game, but each loss came by five or fewer points (and multiple with one of their stars sidelined with an injury). Regardless, Butler was still a well-oiled machine and displayed some impressive stuff throughout the weekend. Our captain, Rick Lewis, said it best, referring to Coach Myron Lowery as “one of the top, most fundamentally-sound coaches across North Carolina.” He’s been doing special things with this Butler program since becoming the head coach in 2014 and has shown no signs of stopping or slowing down that process.
The first thing that folks should know about Butler is their undeniably young roster, which only features two seniors in 5’9 Carson Evans and 6’2 Jonathan Aguilar. This squad will hang their hat heavily on the duo of 5’9 ‘21 Jordan McPhatter and 6’11 ’22 Patrick Wessler. However, this roster is designed incredibly well and is set to feature near-perfect complements alongside those two prospects. Nowadays, it’s very rare to find point guards that big men actually enjoy playing with, but Wessler should absolutely love playing with a guy like McPhatter, who seems to always get his teammates the ball in the ideal spot. McPhatter is a smart, special, team-first type of leader that just knows how to get the job done. Wessler is still just beginning to unlock his long-term abilities, yet already looks like the best big man in North Carolina’s Class of 2022.
On the wings, 5’11 ’22 Ty Black and 6’2 ’21 Moses Payne offer an exceptional burst of perimeter shooting, particularly from beyond the arc, but can also handle the ball and set up offense in a pinch. Black is an excellent off-guard option that seemed ready to step up and score the ball whenever his name was called. Payne has great IQ, length, and touch, but also stands out quite frequently as a defender with his ability to get stops and contain his assignment. Meanwhile, 6’0 ’21 Jesse Taylor is a tough, gritty, glue-guy that plays extremely physical and with a fantastic two-way motor. Inch-for-inch, Taylor is probably the best rebounder on the team, but also showed plenty of scoring ability throughout the weekend.
In many ways, 5’9 ’22 Chastin Gatewood is their most valuable player off the bench, given his blend of youth, IQ, skill, and energy. He makes plays for others and scores the ball efficiently from all levels, but his quickness and ability to make his presence felt as a penetrator and defender is what allowed him to continuously stand out. Additionally, the aforementioned Evans shot the ball very well and made countless hustle plays at Phenom Team Camp, which should ultimately make him a quality contributor throughout the upcoming season.
There’s so much to like about this team, but the fact that they’re young and just getting started is probably the most exciting part. Their JV team even looked strong enough to truly challenge some varsity programs around the state. Butler might not be considered favorites this season, but they’ll definitely go deeper than folks expect and will have a title-contending team for the foreseeable future.