From Highway 212 to Boone, N.C. to Canada to Germany and now to Japan — the game of basketball has taken GMC Prep alum Isaac Butts all around the world.
The 6-foot-10 GMC Prep ’07 graduate has learned quite a bit throughout his eight years having played basketball professionally in Japan. Now in his offseason, he brought some of that knowledge with him Monday when he spoke to a group of current GMC Prep student-athletes inside the gymnasium where he became the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Before his talk with the current cadets, Butts took a tour of his high school alma mater’s much-improved facilities. The Cordell Events Center basketball court was replaced last year for the first time since the gymnasium was built. Butts remembers when the single door next to the home team bench led to the soccer field, not the state-of-the-art Kidd Center with its multiple basketball courts and walking track. It was all pretty eye-opening.
“It’s surreal to be here now,” Butts said. “When I went here it was a totally different experience. The academic and athletic facilities they have now are night and day compared to when I went here.”
He impressed those differences upon the student-athletes listening, and urged them to take advantage of everything they have set before them. That included the Kidd Center weight room, which he compared to the one he used as an Appalachian State University men’s basketball player. He played there after high school, becoming GMC Prep’s first Division I hoops signee in over 10 years at the time. After finishing up in North Carolina, he was invited to work out with the Orlando Magic for a few weeks before landing with a team in Canada. His basketball career then took him overseas to Germany and then much further east to Japan where he plays now in the country’s B League. When he reports for training camp in August, Butts will be into his second year with the Koshigaya Alphas who finished third in their division last year.
“I love Japan and I love the team I’m with now,” the 32-year-old said. “We’re supposed to be the champions this year, so we’ve got a lot of expectations on us. I’m looking forward to competing.”
Butts shared a few more points of wisdom with his young audience Monday. He said that college recruitment does not have to start with a coach picking up the phone. It can just as easily be the other way around. He also endorsed being a multi-sport athlete, pointing out that football was probably his favorite sport to play in high school, but basketball provided the best way forward for him personally.
Butts’ games are not broadcast outside of Japan, but he says the internet has allowed his family back home to follow his career. His local fanbase has likely grown after his Monday chat with the GMC student-athletes who are in similar shoes — although much smaller in size — to the ones he wore from the sixth grade through graduation.