The TCU men’s basketball team added a pair of junior college teammates to its 2011-12 signing class this week, as guard Nathaniel Butler and forward Connell Crossland have signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Horned Frogs next season.
The additions bring the current total of signees to four following last week’s announcements of Adrick McKinney and Ryan Roomes to the fold. The spring signing period runs through May 18.
Butler (G; 6-6; 200; Dorado, Puerto Rico) and Crossland (F; 6-7; 190; St. Louis, Mo.) spent the past season playing together for John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill. The two players will be eligible to compete for the Frogs beginning next fall.
Butler, who played two years for John A. Logan, earned first-team All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference honors as a sophomore in 2010-11 while averaging 13.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocked shots per game. Also an All-Region 24 selection, he led the Volunteers in assists and steals, ranked second in scoring and shot 52.5 percent from the field overall. He was ranked as the nation’s No. 107 junior college prospect by JucoJunction.com.
In his first season with the Volunteers in 2009-10, the 6-6 lefthander posted single-game averages of 4.4 points, 4.4 boards, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals for a squad that posted a 24-7 overall record and won the GRAC championship.
Prior to his time at John A. Logan, Butler spent one season playing at Mississippi Elite Christian Academy in Jackson, Ill, where he was a third-team All-Mississippi selection in 2009. He arrived in Mississippi from his native Puerto Rico, where he was a member of the team that competed in the 2007 FIBA Under-19 World Championships. He played basketball in Puerto Rico for the club team Toa Baha.
“Nate is a strong, athletic guard who is capable of making shots from a distance and creating plays off the dribble,” Christian said. “He’s also an exciting player to watch in transition. He will be one of the bigger guards in our league who can also play small forward. When he gets down in stance and uses his length and athleticism, he should be one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. In terms of personality, he’s very charismatic and is always positive and having fun when out on the court.”
Joining Butler at TCU will be John A. Logan teammate Crossland, who spent one season with the Volunteers following a year at Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill. Ranked as the nation’s No. 123 junior college prospect by JucoJunction.com, Crossland led John A. Logan in 2010-11 with averages of 17.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. His rebounding average ranked No. 4 nationally among all Division I junior college players. Like Butler, he was named to both the All-Region 24 and All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference first teams.
Prior to his season with the Volunteers, Crossland spent the previous campaign with Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill., where he averaged 11.4 points, 6.9 boards and 1.1 blocks per contest. He attended high school at St. Louis-area Hazelwood Central, where he helped lead the Hawks to the 2009 Suburban North Conference championship as a senior while averaging 14.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Crossland played AAU ball as a prep for the St. Louis Majestics.
“Connell is a solid fit for our program who possesses good character,” Christian said. “He is a long, multi-dimensional athlete who can play both the small and power forward positions for us. Hisgreatest assets are his ability to rebound at a very high level and the resiliency to get the job done in the paint for a full 40 minutes. Offensively, he can step out and shoot the three while also taking defenders off the dribble. He’s also a great player in transition.”
MORE ON NATHANIEL BUTLER
(G, 6-6, 200, Dorado, Puerto Rico/M.E.C.A/John A. Logan College)
Butler on his decision to sign with TCU:
“I loved campus. It was beautiful. I also liked the weather and people in Fort Worth. All of the visits I made were good, but when I went to TCU I got the feeling that I could see myself there. The opportunity to play in the Big East was also big for me, because I want to take on that challenge.”
Butler on the opportunity to play with John A. Logan teammate Connell Crossland:
“That’s a plus to be able to keep playing with Connell. He’s a nice player, a good rebounder. He’s still young and has a lot of room to grow.”
MORE ON CONNELL CROSSLAND (F, 6-7, 190, St. Louis, Mo./Hazelwood Central HS/John A. Logan College)
Crossland on his decision to sign with TCU:
“I really liked the school and Fort Worth on my visit. It’s a good school, and it felt like home. Coach Christian had been recruiting me for a while, and I felt he was really serious about getting me to come there. I have a chance to play with some good players at TCU, and I think we can eventually do something really big there.”
Crossland on the opportunity to play with John A. Logan teammate Nathaniel Butler:
“It’s going to help me a lot (having Butler at TCU). We are like brothers and push each other to be the best players we can be. We both work hard, and I think we can both be a big help to TCU.”