'A great night for Appleton West': Former Terrors basketball standout Brian Butch has his jersey retired

APPLETON – Dick Emanuel Gym was home to many special moments for Appleton West basketball star Brian Butch, and he added another one Friday.

One of the state’s most accomplished high school basketball players had his No. 42 Terrors jersey retired during a brief ceremony prior to Appleton West’s game against Kaukauna.

The occasion turned out to be emotional for the former Wisconsin Badgers standout.

“It’s such an honor,” Butch said. “The reason there’s a little tears it’s the people in this gym. Yeah, I was able to put a basketball in a hoop. But looking around and seeing all the people that came back that wanted to be a part of it. It’s been 20 years. And for me, it’s a lot of teachers that have come back and family and friends and people that have been Appleton West supporters. It’s just fun that we can bring everybody together. That’s why I kind of got a little teary-eyed with it. I appreciate the honor. It’s fantastic. But I’m more excited that it’s a great night for Appleton West.”

Butch was the Wisconsin Mr. Basketball award winner and a McDonald’s All-American in 2003 after a senior year in which he led the Terrors to a runner-up finish at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament. He was a two-time Associated Press state player of the year.

“It’s special to be a Terror. It means something special,” he said. “We were able to fill this gym and bring a community together. That meant a lot. We were 14, 16, 18 (years old). We didn’t know what we were doing. We just knew that every time, the gym was full. And then you look back upon it and you see what it meant for our community, what it meant for little kids to watch us play basketball. It was a special thing.”

Butch redshirted his freshman year at Wisconsin, then went on to score 1,115 points in four years with the Badgers. He was first-team all-Big Ten Conference as a senior and went on to play professional basketball overseas and in the NBA Development League.

No matter where basketball took him, he always remembered where he came from.

“It’s everything for me. It’s where I was born and raised. It’s the Fox Valley. It’s engrained in me,” he said. “I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve played all over the world. And for me it’s about just coming back home and knowing that the values I grew up with are the values of this school.”

Butch has transitioned into broadcasting in recent years and still runs his basketball camps, but even as he gets further from his playing career, it hasn’t dampened his desire to give back to the game that’s meant so much to him.

“More people do know me as a broadcaster and I love it, because I had my time to play. It’s about the next generation of kids, and that’s my goal is to create excitement where they want to get a basketball in their hands and they want to play,” he said. “The game’s been so good to me and I firmly believe it’s my job to tell everybody how good the game is so they can follow their love and they can follow their passion.

“If I can get one kid excited about basketball, it teaches you so many life lessons and that’s what I love about this game and that’s why I’ll continue to talk about it and preach about it and tell kids to give it a shot.”

This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Appleton West Terrors retire Brian Butch's basketball jersey