MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Da'Sean Butler's basketball nightmare, the one born on the floor at the Final Four on April 3, started to become a dream again last month. He was in Chicago for the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp just a few weeks after surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee.
So, too, were a number of other draft prospects. Butler's presence doesn't seem so special until it's learned why it was just that.
"Da'Sean wasn't invited," West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins said of his former star who may very well be picked in tonight's NBA Draft.
The camp has combine elements and Butler's knee wasn't going to allow him to do anything physically. Yet he was there, in a suite at the Sheraton, walking, smiling and even auditioning for a spot that seemed to be taken away on that awkward fall with 8:59 remaining in an NCAA semifinal loss to eventual champion Duke at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
If it all works out tonight, it's a credit to a plan crafted by Butler's agent Richard Katz, and executed perfectly by the player.
"What Rich did in Chicago was ingenious," said Huggins, who also is represented by Katz. "Instead of sitting it out and having it become one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind things, they get a suite in Chicago and invite everyone to come speak to him.
"He ends up speaking with seven or eight teams. He's walking around the lobby with no crutches, no limp and acting like everything is all right. It was a great idea."
It was something of a necessity, too.
"I don't know (Butler) was necessarily a lock to be a first-round pick before he got hurt," said NBA Draft analyst Jay Bilas of ESPN. "He's a 6-foot-7 small forward who knows how to play, and he's not a superior athlete, but he's a good one. He's not a great shooter, but he can make shots."
Katz is the head of KMG Sports Management, which he founded in 1985. The group has a roster of football and basketball players, as well as college basketball coaches, but Katz had never represented someone in Butler's situation.
Normally a player's career and then his workouts precede the draft and are enough to validate selection or exclusion. Butler couldn't do the workout things, but he and Katz believed they could do something to get Butler picked rather than ignored.
"We had a plan," Katz said. "I thought that going into this there were basically three issues the NBA needed to have information about to understand and evaluate."
Two items took care of themselves. Teams are interested in a player's ability to play the game and Butler had four years or results and superlatives as proof. It helped, too, that his injury came so late in the season because he missed virtually no basketball.