WITH WEST Virginia taking on UNLV this week (yes, the Mountaineers are big favorites, but check out the Rebels' schedule so far; they've played three Top 25 teams) and Marshall off, my attention moved from college football.
And swung to professional basketball.
If you watched SportsCenter Tuesday night, you undoubtedly saw highlights of the Miami Heat's first preseason game with the Big Three - LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat was playing host to Detroit at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Made me think of the Little One.
Remember, him? Former WVU Mountaineer Da'Sean Butler?
It moved me to place a call to Butler's agent, Richard Katz, to ask how one of the Mountain State's most popular basketball players of all time was faring with the Heat. Most know Butler, a small forward, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in West Virginia's Final Four game against Duke. Now?
"He's doing well," Katz said. "As good as can be expected. He's taking it slow. It's not like [the Heat] need him immediately. It's a luxury."
With a luxury tax. Butler was the 42nd pick in last June's NBA draft. Most expected him to be, at least, a late first-round selection following a stellar Big East tournament and NCAA run. But with that injury, few knew what to do with Butler.
Except Heat president Pat Riley. He drafted Butler. Afterward, he likened him to another Butler: Caron of the Dallas Mavericks. Riley has the players. He apparently has the patience.
"Da'Sean is in Miami," Katz said. "He's rehabbing, doing what he can. But he's not scrimmaging yet."
Butler is on the Heat's roster. He and 19 others are there. The allowable number through training camp and the preseason is 20. On Oct. 25, however, NBA teams must cut that down to 15.
"When they cut it down to 15," Katz said, "I expect him to be on the roster.''
It's somewhat dicey though for Butler. The prevailing school of thought around South Beach is the team will keep the ex-Mountaineer - unless guard Patrick Beverly (who has a fully guaranteed two-year deal) or guard Kenny Hasbrouck (partially guaranteed) or center Shavlik Randolph (partially guaranteed) are very impressive in camp. Note that Beverly's contract, according to his agent, is fully guaranteed. There is also the possibility an appealing veteran is released by another team and picked up by the Heat.
Anyway, it's intriguing. Fourteen of the 15 Heat slots are filled, not counting Beverly. Know, however, only 12 players will be on the active roster. Up to three can stick on inactive duty.
"When they cut down to 12, will Da'Sean be on the active roster? Probably not," Katz said. "But they can keep up to that three [additional players]. Da'Sean was a second-round pick. He has a make-it contract.