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Butler basketball in transfer portal: Thad Matta reworks roster
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Butler basketball in transfer portal: Thad Matta reworks roster

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For the second straight season, Butler’s roster is in flux, and there are still several holes the team needs to fill.

Butler released three players from the program, brought in three players through the portal and added one freshman as part of the recruiting class of 2024. The Bulldogs have two open scholarships — three if Jahmyl Telfort decides to turn pro for good. The Bulldogs had 12 scholarship players on board last season, so coach Thad Matta will add at least two more players to the roster.

Last season, to the surprise of everyone outside Butler, Matta’s group of 10 new faces quickly jumped to a 15-7 start and looked like a potential NCAA tournament team. The rigors of the Big East eventually took their toll and the Bulldogs finished 18-15 with a trip to the NIT.

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With Posh Alexander transferred to Dayton, Butler needs to add a floor general, a lead-guard type point guard. And with Jalen Thomas gone, the Dawgs need another big body to play in the post. Easier said than done, of course, but this roster will feel incomplete if Butler’s next signees don’t fill at least one of those roles.

Here’s a look at how Butler’s new pieces will fit into the roster as it is currently constructed.

Players ranked by position, from back to front.

Kolby King, combo guard, Tulane

The first thing that jumps off the screen when you look at King is his athleticism. At 6-2, 190 pounds, King attacks the rim with power, finishing above the rim with dunks or using his body control to finish in traffic with a layup. According to College Scouting on YouTube, 44% of King’s field goal attempts came at the rim.

Having a guard who can score at the rim will be a big boost to Butler’s offense. For all of Posh Alexander’s strengths, finishing on the edge was a clear weakness in his game. King is stronger and more athletic than Alexander, giving the Dawgs an offensive element they didn’t have last season. Look for King to attack in transition, making trips to the line or converting baskets at the rim.

As an outside shooter, King will also be a marked improvement over Alexander. King is a career 36.5% 3-point shooter and is comfortable shooting off the dribble, on pull-ups and especially in catch-and-shoot situations where his 66% effective field goal percentage ranks in the 95th percentile stands. He feels most comfortable shooting from the corner: he shoots 54% from the right corner and 36% from the left corner.

As a passer, King has good feel in the pick-and-roll. He can read the defense well, accelerate to the basket when he has an angle or find an open teammate with a pass. His 1.3/1.0 ratio of assists to turnovers doesn’t stand out, but he is able to make plays that don’t always end up as assists, find teammates in rhythm or make the pass before the pass that leads to a assist leads.

Matta showed he’s not afraid to play two smaller guards together, meaning King could fit alongside Landon Moore and/or Finley Bizjack in the backcourt. The trio of King, Moore and Bizjack isn’t the biggest, but the three are bigger than Alexander and DJ Davis, which should lead to an overall improvement on defense, even if Alexander’s defensive presence will be impossible to replace.

Jamie Kaiser Jr., forward, Maryland

Kaiser brings pure shooting to the Bulldogs, at least in theory. Of his 160 field goal attempts, 113 came from behind the arc (70.6%). Unfortunately, Kaiser only shot 26% from 3, but his 77.8% mark from the free-throw line suggested his shooting mechanics were not broken and improvement could be expected.

Kaiser will have the benefit of playing alongside Pierre Brooks II, a capable three-level scorer who should draw additional defensive attention after leading Butler in scoring last season. Matta’s attack gives the ultimate green light for the outside shooters. Davis was given permission to shoot from anywhere. Kaiser should benefit from coach Alex Barlow’s ability to come up with outside looks, but he needs to make shots when he gets the chance.

Kaiser shot best from the right corner, shooting 49%, but his lowest number of attempts came from that spot. More corner 3s would be a way to help Kaiser find the shooting touch that made him a four-star recruit coming out of IMG Academy via Virginia. Oddly enough, Kaiser struggled in catch-and-shoot situations, with an effective field goal percentage in the 15th percentile.

It’s possible that Kaiser suffered an extended slump last season, likely the first time he’s ever struggled in his career and simply couldn’t find his feet. A change of scenery should make up for the 6-6, 205-pound forward, adding a shooting element to replace the departed Davis.

Patrick McCaffery, forward, Iowa

McCaffery’s role will change the most, with or without Telfort. With Telfort, a great playmaker for his size, everything McCaffery does well can be highlighted. McCaffery works well without the ball, navigating screens and getting to his spots. He is especially efficient from the elbows: he shoots 42.5%, curls into the paint, stops and pops or fades to score.

McCaffery finishes well at the rim and shoots 59%. He can finish above the rim if given space, but most of his buckets come below the rim, where he is smart enough to use angles and body control to get the ball in the hoop. That cunning helps him with the ball in his hands. He’s strong enough to get into the paint when he goes downhill, and uses his floater and fadeaways to score when he can’t get all the way to the rim.

The 6-6, 212-pound forward is a career 32% 3-point shooter, but he is much better as a spot-up shooter than off the dribble. Without Telfort, McCaffery might be asked to facilitate more, requiring him to have the ball in his hands without the benefit of a true point guard. For now, Telfort seems destined to shoulder a major burden as a scorer and playmaker, likely allowing McCaffery to play off the ball as a member of the second unit.

Follow IndyStar Butler Insider Akeem Glaspie on X at @THEAkeemGlaspie.