Westmoreland Alumni Q&A with Bryce Butler

The former Greater Latrobe basketball standout is one of the top offensive players at West Liberty

Wed Dec 15, 2021 - 3:42PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Latrobe's Bryce Butler is averaging 17.5 points per game this season for West Liberty.Latrobe's Bryce Butler is averaging 17.5 points per game this season for West Liberty.

Last Updated: Wed Dec 15, 2021 - 3:46PM

For most of the past decade, the last name Butler has been synonymous with Greater Latrobe basketball. Following in the path laid by his older brother, Austin, Bryce Butler took over as the top player for Greater Latrobe. Bryce more than fulfilled the lofty expectations with the Wildcats, and he’s now excelling in his third season with West Liberty University. As a result, Bryce Butler is the latest feature for the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.

Bryce cracked the Greater Latrobe varsity roster as a sophomore in 2016-17, and playing alongside Austin, he helped propel GL to a record of 19-5 overall, including 12-2 in section play. The Wildcats failed to maintain that success in the postseason, however, falling to Butler Area in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals, and then coming up short against Pine-Richland in the PIAA first round.

The following season, Greater Latrobe went 9-5 in section play, but redeemed the previous campaign with a WPIAL Class 6A playoff win against Butler Area. However, the Wildcats were overmatched by Mount Lebanon in the quarterfinals, finishing with a record of 16-8.

As a senior in 2018-19, Butler posted incredible numbers, averaging 22.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. The Wildcats went a perfect 10-0 in the section, but fell to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL 6A quarterfinals, concluding with a mark of 18-3.

Honored twice as an All-WPIAL Class 6A performer, Butler graduated Greater Latrobe in 2019, and matriculated to West Liberty to continue his career on the hardwood.

As a freshman for the Hilltoppers, the guard played in all 31 games, posting averages of 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, along with 64 assists and 26 steals. That season, West Liberty went 27-4, including 19-3 in the Mountain East Conference (MEC). In the conference tournament, the Hilltoppers bested Concord University, West Virginia State University, and the University of Charleston to win the MEC Championship. West Liberty qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament, but it was never played because of the cancellation resulting from COVID.

During last season, which was abbreviated, Butler played in all 23 games, including 11 starts. During his action, he amassed 10.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while adding 47 assists and 14 steals. West Liberty went 18-5, including 13-3 in the MEC. Although the Hilltoppers defeated Concord and Glenville State College, they lost to Fairmont State University in the conference championship game. However, the Hilltoppers still qualified for the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional, and scored wins against Malone University, Charleston, and Hillsdale College. West Liberty’s run ended with a loss to Northwest Missouri State University in the Elite Eight.

This campaign, Butler has started all 10 games, and has produced 17.5 points and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game, along with 26 assists and 11 steals. He’s also shooting 61.9 percent from the field, and 43.5 percent from behind the arc. To this point, West Liberty was gone 9-1, including 5-1 in the MEC.

Bryce took time from his busy schedule to answer questions about his improvement since his freshman year at West Liberty, the significance of his academic achievements, and which food he’d choose to eat for the rest of his life.

Q: You've been on a scoring tear recently. What has been key to that success?

A: The confidence that my teammates and coaches give me really helps. To go along with that, my teammates do a phenomenal job putting me in good positions to score.

Q: How have you improved from your freshman season until now?

A: I would say the biggest improvement would have to be my physical conditioning. My freshman year, I struggled to keep my body in good condition throughout the year, so over the last two years, I’ve really focused on being in the best shape possible.

Q: West Liberty has enjoyed tremendous team success during your time. What have been the biggest factors in that?

A: The biggest factor in it is playing as a team and everyone buying into the system. The way we play requires all five guys to be on the same page at all times. Coach Howlett has done a really good job at keeping things organized and consistent.

Q: What team and individual goals did you set for this season?

A: The standard is pretty clear at West Liberty when it comes to team goals; the goal is to win championships every year. The biggest thing individually for me is to be the best leader I can be and to help my team win games and championships in whatever ways I can.

Q: What led to your decision to attend West Liberty?

A: The family atmosphere and the winning culture.

Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?

A: Sports management, and my ideal profession would be a Division I basketball coach.

Q: You've been honored for your academic achievements in each of your first two seasons. What did that recognition mean to you?

A: Just knowing that my hard work is paying off outside of basketball is always nice because basketball won’t last forever.

Q: What has been your most enjoyable college class?

A: Sport Law.

Q: What was your fondest high school memory at Greater Latrobe?

A: Getting to play alongside my brother, Austin, and winning two section titles.

Q: You played under longtime head coach Brad Wetzel at Greater Latrobe. What are his best qualities?

A: His best quality would have to be the life lessons he teaches through basketball. He’s obviously a great coach and has had a lot of success, but the way he teaches his players to become good young men off the court is my favorite thing about him.

Q: Who was the best individual player you faced in high school?

A: Terrence Clarke (Clarke went on to play at the University of Kentucky, and declared for the NBA Draft in March, but was tragically killed in an automobile accident in April).

Q: How often do you and your brothers talk about basketball or play with one another?

A: I would say pretty much every day. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where we aren’t talking to each other about something related to basketball. When we are all together over breaks and the summer, we all work out together pretty much every day.

Q: Who is your celebrity dream date?

A: Zendaya.

Q: If you could only eat one food the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: Homemade chicken noodle soup from my grandma.

Q: What is the best advice you've ever received?

A: Accept all things that have come and gone and take nothing in life for granted.