By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It’s common for an NBA player to go for 2 for 2 or 3 for 3.
NBA All-Stars like Tony Parker, Steph Curry or league legend Steve Nash can achieve that easily. Brighton Cardinal senior guard Colby Butler earned a reputation for consistent shooting by the end of the season. In addition to other skills on the court and classroom, Butler earned a scholarship to Bethel University.
Butler’s signing earlier this month in the Brighton Gymnasium was an achievement for his Cardinals Head Coach Stan Gatlin and parents Calvin and Rachel. Colby’s signing made Gatlin 2 for 2 with the Class of 2016 with Tramaine Cooper already signing with Bethel.
And Colby, the third of four children, made his parents 3 for 3 with college signings with Veronica at UT-Chattanooga as a cheerleader and Cameron at Midland University for football.
“Getting kids to the collegiate level in athletics was to get a scholarship and a college education,” Calvin said. “That’s our main focus and main goal to get the children through school without worrying about the financial burden of attending a college.”
Right by Colby’s side on signing day were his parents, coaches and younger sister Vada. Also making the trip representing Bethel University was Assistant Coach Jonathan Stanley.
“He’s a high character guy,” Stanley said. “We don’t have to worry about teaching or coaching attitude or effort. He already got that. That’s somebody we have to have in our program. He has a really good skill set on him as far as his quickness and ball handling.
“We can polish it up even more to him in the likes of a Tony Parker, Steve Nash,” he added. “His work ethic is what really surprised us. He can come in right away. Our returners will have their jobs on the line. Colby is a guy who can come in and compete for one of those spots.”
Butler is no stranger for competing for a position or time on the court. During his time at Brighton, Butler emerged as a key role player by his junior season. His final season as a Cardinal was a roller coaster ride.
“He has a lot of resilience,” Calvin noted. “There were a lot of times I felt like if it had been me, I would have quit. There were a lot of times it was hard for us as parents to watch the disappointment and frustration he was going through. He stuck with it. I got to salute him for it.”
Butler said his time on the bench made him realize how much he wanted to contribute to the team and his love for the game.
“Family, friends and Tra helped me out a lot,” he recalled. “He just told me to keep my head up and keep playing hard. He believed in me and it just helped my confidence grow.”
As Butler’s confidence grew, his time on the court increased. Earning back his starting spot, Colby had Kobe… Bryant moments helping Brighton win nearly 20 games.
“He has a lot of potential,” Gatlin said. “He has a lot of upside. He’s going to be an X-factor with his type of game. When his game is on and he’s in his mode, he’s an X-factor. This year people didn’t play to stop him but other guys on the team. And he’ll step up and they would be like, ‘Hey, where did he come from?’
“He came in at the right time this year,” he continued. “He produced some good games for us and produced helping us to get to the championship game this year and to win the County Championship this year.”
Whether times were going great or subpar on the court for Butler, he always kept his mind sharp.
“He’s a great student in the classroom — made the All-Academic Team for the district,” Gatlin said. “I”m extremely proud of him and his willingness to fight through. At times he wasn’t getting the minutes he wanted to get. Easily a lot of guys would fold or just quit. He stuck with it and waited for his time to step up. And when it was his time, he stepped up.”
Rachel noted Colby had the ability to reach Bethel from the court or classroom.
“I’m really proud of him and what he has done academically to make this scholarship possible,” she said. “Like Calvin said, I can’t remember a time he hasn’t played sports. He’s loved basketball more than anything. I’m just glad he has a chance to show what he’s got and to prove himself.”
Proving himself on the court has always been Colby’s dream.
“I played three sports — baseball, football and basketball,” he recalled. “But basketball was my favorite. I felt like I could be myself the most on the court.
“I realized I could make the college level probably at the end of this year,” Colby added. “I had doubts sometimes but then when I stepped up and started playing better for my team, I got more confidence and thought I could do it. It has led to here.”
Butler will joined fellow Tipton County products Cooper and Covington’s Malcolm Taylor on Jeff Britt’s squad.
Britt has won more than 200 games at Bethel with five 20-plus win seasons. Britt has more than 300 wins in his career.
“I know Tra and Malcolm like to work,” Colby said. “I’m sure I can get work in with them and we all can just get better and help Bethel out a lot.”
Butler hopes his signing to Bethel will help one more person — to go 4 for 4.
“I just want to make sure I give my little sister all the advice I can and just built her confidence to let her know she can do the same things we all did,” he concluded.