‘TIMEOUT’ with Prairiland senior basketball player Ryan Butler
Size matters in the world of sports, and height is a strength on the basketball court. Prairiland Patriots 6-foot-3 senior Ryan Butler possesses plenty of size for the basketball team’s front line. After gaining valuable varsity experience as a junior last year, Ryan is expected to play a key role in the frontcourt for head coach Steven Weddle and his Patriots squad.
Making the switch from the gridiron to the hardwood
Ryan did not always have hoop dreams when it was time to hit the hay. Instead, he was more into the gridiron action in his youth. Once he got into junior high, however, Ryan sized up his options and took his talents to the gym.
“I think I started playing in fourth or fifth grade and I played a little bit of football, but I didn’t really care for it,” Ryan said. “I just wanted to try out playing basketball and I ended up loving it. After that, I got to junior high and I liked playing under Coach (Steven) Weddle and it was going good. He moved back to Prairiland my seventh-grade year, so we were his first new group when he came back.”
For his entire life, Ryan has predominantly been viewed as “the tall kid.” He wasn’t able to find his footing as well in his earlier playing days but, once he reached high school, Ryan’s coordination and skill continued to rise.
“I’ve always been one of the tallest kids in elementary school and junior high,” Ryan said. “I was never really coordinated through junior high, but I’d say my freshman and sophomore years are when I finally started catching up to my body. From there, everything started to fall in line more. Everyone else is starting to catch up to me more because I think I am done growing sadly.”
Versatility could be key for the Pats
Tall players hold a huge advantage in the painted area on the basketball court, and Ryan knows that well. In addition to this, though, Ryan believes in being a versatile offensive player, even if he does get embarrassed about occasionally missing an open layup on his own admission. Regardless, Ryan not only can take advantage of certain matchups down low, but he has also developed his game to become a more versatile player at his size.
“I started down low and have played a lot down low because I’m obviously tall, so that’s where they are going to put me,” Ryan said. “I’ve really had to work on my outside shot to improve it and make it better. Anytime I can get on the perimeter, I’m going to jump out there and play out there because you have more freedom to drive, more freedom to dish, and you can create your own shot. I just like to play on the perimeter some to mix it up a little bit.”
Versatility is not only an aspect of Ryan’s basketball skill and philosophy but also that of his teammates. Since Prairiland has the ability to match up well across the board defensively, Ryan foresees a switch-heavy defense as a team strength that fits the personnel well.
“We have me, Blake (Ballard), Eli (Rolen), and Jeremiah (Harrison) who all have a little bit of height on us,” Ryan said. “We’re also steady shooters and can switch a lot on defense with whoever is in front of us. The younger groups have some kids who are solid players and can handle the ball pretty well, so I feel like all of that mixed together can make a pretty solid team this year.”
He is not just a shooter in the gym
As a high school athlete, Ryan enjoys the time he gets to compete in the gym. However, not all sports require a ball of some form and numerous teammates. Along with his competitive recreational ventures, Ryan enjoys partaking in outdoor sports, too.
“When people think of sports and stuff, they may think that is all you do in your free time,” Ryan said. “Any time I get the chance, I like to go hog hunting and try to catch some of those pigs. I enjoy doing that as much as anything even though most people that just see me on the basketball court probably wouldn’t expect to hear me say that.”
He also enjoys the great outdoors when he needs to clear his mind and temporarily escape reality.
“I like getting out and getting to the woods somewhere,” Ryan said. “Whether it’s hunting for something or going fishing somewhere, it’s nice to just get away.”
A humorously forgettable memory
Ryan may have wanted to consider escaping reality during an odd football game with a questionable player on the opposing team.
“Back when I was playing football, I was always on the line of scrimmage somewhere since I was bigger than everyone else,” Ryan said. “There was a kid that was growling at us the entire game long. He growled the whole time and, we all thought it was funny, but I think he was being serious the whole time.”
Ryan will try to get the Patriots off to a fast start at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 at home against the Detroit Eagles. For more sports coverage, click here.