Portal Report: Matta Looks to Restrucutre Butler Roster in Head Coaching Return
With Thad Matta once again taking the reigns at Butler this offseason, he’s taken full advantage of the transfer portal after the program lost several starters and key role players to transfers and the NBA Draft. Bringing in four new additions with a mix of mid-major and power-5 conference experience to combine with the high-level talent already on board, Matta has built a Bulldogs roster that will not only improve on last season’s 14-19 record but should also prove competitive in the Big East once again.
Butler Transfer Additions:
ERIC HUNTER JR., PURDUE
6.2 PPG / 2.1 RPG / 2 ARP / Big Ten All-Defense
MANNY BATES, NC STATE
7.1 PPG / 4.8 RPG / .4 APG / ACC All-Defense
JALEN THOMAS, GEORGIA STATE
7.9 PPG / 6.2 RPG / .6 APG
ALI ALI, AKRON
13.9 PPG / 2.9 RPG / 2.5 APG / 2021-22 All-MAC
While seniors like Bryce Golden and Aaron Thompson sought opportunities either at the professional ranks or in the transfer portal, Matta was able to retain some important pieces including leading scorer Chuck Harris, freshman starter Jayden Taylor, and German international Simas Lukosius.
To build on that base, Butler first announced the addition of All-MAC second-team selection Ali Ali who had a standout year for Akron as a 32-game starter averaging 13.9 PPG with an outstanding three-point stroke at 41% from behind the arc.
Almost a month later, Matta and staff would receive a commitment from Georgia State’s Jalen Thomas; a 6-foot-10 forward who’s become known as a lockdown defender averaging 1.7 BKPG and 1 STPG last season while contributing offensively at an effective rate.
To round it out, Butler would bring in Manny Bates and Eric Hunter, both featuring power-5 conference experience and joining as graduate transfers to spend their final year of eligibility in Indianapolis. While Bates spent the 2020-21 season sidelined with a shoulder injury, the former top-100 prospect is a 6-foot-11 defensive monster having averaged 9.8 PPG to go with 2.7 BKPG as a redshirt sophomore earning him an ACC All-Defense selection.
Hunter too adds another major defensive presence to this Bulldogs lineup earning Big Ten All-Defense in his senior season with Purdue. However, the 6-foot-4 guard can also score and assist at a high level best highlighted by his sophomore season in which Hunter averaged 10.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.6 APG and last season shot 44% from three point range.
TRP’s Projected Lineup for Butler:
Chuck Harris, G
Eric Hunter, G
Ali Ali, F
Jalen Thomas, F
Manny Bates, C