- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Many siblings are like apples and oranges when it comes to comparing them.
That does not apply in the literal sense to the Butler sisters.
North Point senior guard/forward Tasia Butler is officially a member of the Orange family like older sister Tiara after signing her formal letter of intent last Thursday to play college basketball at Syracuse.
One of the top class-of-2013 recruited talents in the country, the 6-foot 1 athletic swing player verbally committed to Syracuse in July while being highly sought after by a plethora of big-time NCAA Division I outfits in the country.
Her father, Tink, said she had 27 full-ride offers on the table, including the one from Syracuse since Butler was an eighth-grader. Headlining her long list of courters also included Louisville, Miami, Georgetown, St. John’s, Georgia Tech, James Madison and Villanova.
But Syracuse possessed the prevailing recruiting chip in Butler’s redshirt sophomore sister, a 5-10 guard, who also starred for North Point before graduating in 2010.
“My sister’s there so I feel like it’s already a family environment,” Butler said of Syracuse being her overwhelming choice. “I’ve known the [Syracuse] coaches for so long. They’ve watched me since I was in the seventh grade. So we’ve already had that relationship established.
“It feels like home. It’s a great fit.”
The Butler father can still vividly remember tearing up when both his girls were introduced as North Point starters in the first game of the 2009-10 season as a freshman and senior.
“I’m excited, just wanting to see them together playing out on the floor at some point again [for Syracuse] and me just breaking down [emotionally],” Tink said. “I definitely feel blessed.”
“To have two individuals in the same household develop into college athletes is pretty rare,” North Point head coach Michael Serpone added, “but to get to be Division I athletes is even more unusual.”
Butler noted, “[My parents] are really excited for me. They’ve mentioned that they’re relieved that me and my sister get to play together and share that bond that we had once in high school. They’re kind of excited that they get to go one shot [to a college game] and see us both.”
Syracuse’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next year, just in time for Butler’s first season there, also factored into her choosing the Orange as she will be playing closer to home.
Butler is not expecting to redshirt her first season with Syracuse. Her sister, who committed to Syracuse before her freshman season at North Point and received six offers during her recruitment, was redshirted by the Orange.
“The ACC is more of a fast-paced, up-tempo type of conference so I feel like I fit that perfectly just because of my style of play,” said Butler, described by ESPN.com as having ‘all the speed and quickness you can ask for’ and having potential to ‘be one of the elite perimeter defenders in the [2013 high school] class.’
“I feel ready.”
The Butler father expects his younger daughter to be more of an impact player for Syracuse because she’s had the benefit of an older sister to lean on in addition to a ceiling of potential that continues to grow.
“They’re two totally different players,” Tink said of his daughters. “I think some of the milestones that Tasia will reach, Tiara didn’t reach and probably won’t just because Tasia had that support system [of an older sister who has learned from her mistakes]. They are so competitive with each other.
“Tasia and Tiara, they’re going to make each other better because they compete against each other. I think Tasia going there is going to help Tiara.”
“They have always pushed each other on the floor, and I am certain that this particular aspect of their relationship will not change when Tasia gets to [Syracuse],” the North Point coach said. “It will also be a much easier transition for Tasia in all aspects of the college experience because of the fact that she has Tiara with her.”
While noting that her sister’s presence at Syracuse did not equate to a slam dunk when it came to deciding her fate during the recruitment process, Butler also did not minimize the rare opportunity of joining a sibling — and her best friend — on the same college team in the basketball-rich Big East Conference.
Butler nearly committed to Miami as late as May before deciding on Syracuse.
The sisters will not be able to room together at Syracuse given the college’s stipulation that freshmen must live in on-campus housing.
“When we compared schools, it was kind of like a no-brainer,” the Butler father said. “Syracuse flies private jet everywhere they go, one of three schools in the Big East that does that. They’ve got a chef that prepares their meals. From their freshman year, they’re in townhouses. It was a lot of perks that a lot of schools couldn’t offer.”
The older Butler sister saw her first action in a Syracuse uniform last year, playing in 10 games and averaging just over a point in almost six minutes per contest.
In three unbeaten games already this year entering Tuesday for Syracuse, Tiara had averaged nine minutes of action in two of them with 2 1/2 points per contest.
“She definitely helped me on a couple visits comparing schools,” Butler said of her sister’s influence. “[Having my sister there] influences my transition between just being a just regular freshman or being a freshman with a sister, because I kind of have a shoe-up on [other freshmen]. I have a heads-up on what to expect. She’s someone that will have my back there when I know things are going to get tough.”
Butler then laughed about being aided by the advice of her sister, “It was a little advantage.”
Her father added, “Tasia’s going to know what to expect because there won’t be any surprises. She’s going to know the offense, she’s going to know the drills, pretty much everything because she’s getting it handed down to her when she gets there [from her sister].”
Still work to do at North Point
Now, Butler can focus entirely on her quickly-approaching senior season at North Point where she will lead an Eagles program looking to continue its status as one of the elite contenders in the Class 4A state ranks.
“It’s more so relief. I can get to focus on this season,” Butler said about her heavy recruitment officially coming to a close on the same day that North Point’s preseason began. “I’m ready to get started. [Signing to Syracuse] is just a check off the list.”
North Point has already celebrated two Southern Maryland Athletic Conference titles while boasting a nearly unblemished 35-1 combined league mark during Butler’s first three high school seasons. Overall, North Point has constructed a 64-9 combined tab during Butler’s stint, which saw her briefly transfer to Riverdale Baptist two years ago before returning to the Eagles for the bulk of that season.
Just as impressive, Butler spearheaded North Point to its first regional crown by winning the 4A East two seasons ago in just her sophomore campaign. She then continued to keep North Point on top of the region last year when her team just missed advancing to its first state final, losing in the state semifinals by just two points.
As a junior, Butler averaged 17 points per game as North Point’s best player and earned selections to the All-SMAC and All-County first teams.
She was a second-team All-SMAC and All-County selection her sophomore year.
Even as a freshman, on a North Point team loaded with senior talent that included a pair of NCAA Division I recruits in her sister and SMAC and county MVP Robyn Parks (Virginia Commonwealth), Butler still managed to get a nod as an honorable mention pick on the All-County team.
“Here at North Point, I feel like, as of now, you’ve always got something to improve in,” Butler said. “I’m doing good at this moment, but it could be grades. Personally, I have some accomplishments I want to achieve. We’ve got to win states this year. If we don’t, I feel like it’s kind of on my shoulders.
“I’m ready for that challenge. We’ve got our foot in the door. I think we can do it. We’re going all the way.”
Serpone noted, “Tasia is quite the talent. I can remember when she first came to North Point as a ninth-grader and made a good showing for herself on a team that was loaded with talented ballplayers. She has continued to work hard in the classroom and on the floor and is a great example of a student-athlete with a tremendous work ethic.”