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WSN15: Boys Basketball Top Moments #2 -- Appleton West's Butch helped put Wisconsin high school basketball on the national map

02/13/2018, 10:00am CST
By Mark Miller

The WSN15 series will celebrate the 15th Anniversary of by looking back at the top players, teams, and moments of the past 15 years (2003-2017). 

We begin our WSN15 boys' basketball series with the Top 15 Moments of the WSN Era.

Right there -- just a few spots below LeBron James and a few spots ahead of Chris Paul -- is Brian Butch.

The skinny but ultra skilled 7-foot-0 post player from West High School in Appleton, Wisconsin, ranked among the nation's top 10 prep players in the class of 2003 by the internet site 

Blueblood programs from Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina came calling and offered scholarships to Butch as did in-state powers Marquette and Wisconsin.  

When you are ranked No. 9 in the country, stand 7-foot-0, possess a strong academic background and can make shots from the perimeter and in the post, people tend to take notice. 

Indeed, the hoopla surrounding the recruitment and stellar all-around play of Butch during his high school career under coach Greg Hartjes with the Terrors ranks among the top stories in prep basketball history in this state.

In the end, Butch turned down Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina, among so many others, and elected to stay home and play for coach Bo Ryan at the University of Wisconsin, where he had a very productive four-year career. He later played professionally overseas and currently runs youth basketball camps throughout the state while also serving as an assistant coach with the Wisconsin Herd G-League team in Oshkosh.

As a senior, Butch turned in one memorable performance after another at the WIAA State Tournament, scoring a then tournament-record 45 points in an 81-66 victory over Milwaukee Custer in the quarterfinal round of the Division 1 bracket. 

A day later, Butch went for 29 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots in a 58-44 semifinal victory over Eau Claire Memorial.

In the title game against unbeaten Milwaukee King, Butch finished with 20 points and eight rebounds as the Terrors ended their 23-3 campaign with a 57-46 setback. 

Butch's 94-point total for the three games he played in the 2003 state tournament is the third most in WIAA history, behind Roy Birk's 102 points for Waukesha in 1961 and Kurt Nimphuis' 97 points for South Milwaukee in 1976.  

Butch completed his prep career with 1,431 points, earned Associated Press Player of the Year honors as a junior and senior, and was named Mr. Basketball by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association in 2003. 

Other Wisconsin high school standouts such as Sheboygan Lutheran's Sam Dekker (#13 in 2012), Milwaukee Hamilton's Kevon Looney (#10 in 2014), Dominican's Diamond Stone (#6 in 2015) and Rice Lake's Henry Ellenson (#11 in 2015) have since been ranked among the top 15 players nationally by, but Butch is the trailblazer who set the pace for all the others. 

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark at

Tag(s): News Archive  News  Mark Miller  WSN15