Pennsylvania Brothers Reunited on 3x3 U23 Nations League Team
The Butler brothers are together again.
Growing up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Austin and Bryce Butler found themselves on the same basketball team just once. It came during Austin’s senior year at Greater Latrobe Senior High School, when Bryce was a sophomore.
“We played a lot together for that year,” Austin said. “Then obviously played college ball and working out together during the summer, we did that a lot. But being teammates, that was the only year we got to do that.”
It’s about to happen again. The brothers were both named to the USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 U23 Nation League Team that is playing in the 2022 FIBA 3x3 Nations League running Aug. 13-19 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
“The opportunity to get to do it next to my brother, which is something that has probably not happened much,” said the 23-year-old Austin, who played collegiately at Holy Cross and UNC Charlotte. “I’m grateful for that chance to get to play alongside him this week, too.”
Bryce Butler, 21, is a guard for Div. II West Liberty University in West Virginia.
The U.S. are playing in the Americas conference in the Nations League along with Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
A first-place finish among that group in pool play would send the U.S. to the Nations League Final, which takes place Sept. 14-16 in Constanta, Romania.
Austin is looking forward to playing with his brother.
“We obviously know what each other’s strengths are, we know what each other likes to do,” he said. “We both play the right way and just play hard. Being out there together, moving the ball and trusting each other, it goes a long way. It helps that we both have been around each other’s game so much and played together a lot. Will make the chemistry part of things a little easier when we’re on the court together.”
Austin Butler ranked No. 5 in 3-pointers (158) and games played (100) in four years as a starter at Holy Cross. Then, this past year, in his lone season for UNC Charlotte, he started all 31 games and averaged 12.6 points, 6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
When his collegiate career concluded in March, Austin Butler competed in the Dos Equis 3x3U National Championship. Butler’s team, which included Camron Justice of Western Kentucky, Darius Perry of UCF and Jeriah Horne of Tulsa, lost in the title game.
After that, Butler attended Princeton’s 3x3 training camp, followed by the USA Basketball training camp.
“Initially, the shape that you have to be in to compete in 3x3 is a lot different,” Austin said. “It is very fast-paced, 10-minute games, 12-second shot clock, you’ve got to be in shape. A lot of different rules with shot clock and fouls you have to get used to.”
Following the USA Basketball training camp, he was named to the 3x3 Men's World Tour team. Butler made his U.S. debut at the 2022 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals.
“It’s been pretty enjoyable and pretty fun,” he said. “I’ve had a good time doing it so far.”
The growth of the 3x3 game on an international level is evident, especially with the sport being added to the Olympic program last year.
“It is cool for some of us young guys to get into the door early with this kind of stuff,” Austin said. “Knowing that there’s World Cup teams, there’s Olympics now. You just don’t have to play 5x5, there’s a lot of opportunities arising for the 3x3 game.”
The U.S. Nations League team is coached by Damon Huffman, who won a World Cup gold medal as a USA Basketball player in 2019 and also won three USA Basketball 3x3 national championships.
“For him to be in this setting coaching the national team and seeing how he sees the game, what he thinks works, and getting his input and learning from someone who has had success in the game is really valuable for us six guys,” Austin said. “Just to be able to listen to him, take in what he’s saying and apply that to the opportunity that we’re getting here in the Dominican Republic.”
Being a part of the team is special for both Austin and his younger brother, Bryce.
“It doesn’t matter if it is 3x3 or 5x5, you’re getting to put on the USA jersey with your name on the back and your number,” Austin said. “That’s something you’ll have for the rest of your life. Once we get the jerseys and step out there for the first game and represent the U.S., and ourselves as well, it’s going to be a great feeling.”
Joshua Koch is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.