It remains to be seen whether Butler's surprising run to the national title game enables the Bulldogs to compete with marquee programs for high-major recruits, but their success has already helped two of their mid-major counterparts.
McDonald's All-American Ray McCallum Jr. and Trey Zeigler, two of the nation's most coveted unsigned senior guards, announced Wednesday that they will attend Detroit Mercy and Central Michigan, respectively. That both their fathers coach at their respective schools of choice was obviously the biggest factor in their decisions, but both credited Butler's run for showing that they didn't need to sign with a traditional power to achieve success.
"That just shows that it doesn't matter what level you're at," McCallum said. "If you're just good and you have good players and a good team, it doesn't matter where you're at. It's just about the amount of hard work you put into it, and you can accomplish anything."
The lingering question in the wake of McCallum and Zeigler's announcements is how much will their presence elevate their respective teams? In other words, can either player have a Stephen Curry-like effect, transforming Central Michigan or Detroit into a threat to not only make the NCAA tournament but do some damage once they get there?
McCallum turned down UCLA, Florida and Arizona to be the highest rated recruit in the Horizon League next season, but it may be difficult for the 6-foot-1 point guard to make Detroit an instant contender. First of all, Butler returns the core of its team went 19-0 in league last year. Secondly, the Titans graduate four seniors from last year's 20-14 team and they quietly announced Wednesday that three other players will transfer including second-leading scorer Xavier Keeling.
Zeigler, the nation's 26th-ranked recruit according to Rivals.com, is the marachino cherry atop a Central Michigan recruiting class that already was one of the best in the Mid-American Conference. With leading scorers Jordan Blitzer and Robbie Harmon both seniors, the slashing 6-foot-5 shooting guard will be counted on to lead the Chippewas to a second straight MAC Western Division title and their first NCAA tournament berth since 2003.
"Zeigler and McCallum will certainly be impact players at Central Michigan and Detroit," Rivals.com recruiting expert Jerry Meyer said via email. "I don't think they are good enough to drastically transform these teams into upper-echelon mid-major programs on their own. But their presence will significantly improve their teams and it will help attract other top recruits."