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Yuba's Spencer Butterfield to sign with Utah State
Everyone told Spencer Butterfield his future was in football — he didn't listen.
As long as he can remember, his passion has been basketball. He said he started dribbling a ball when he was 3 years old.
It wasn't until his first year at Del Oro High in Loomis that Butterfield played football and developed into one of the Sacramento area's top wide receivers.
He's physical, tough and wasn't afraid to go over the middle. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds he hauled in 96 catches for 1,616 yards and 14 touchdowns over his two-year varsity career with the Golden Eagles.
The phone calls rolled in during his senior year as coaches attempted to persuade him to play football at the next level.
Despite the numerous successes on the gridiron, Butterfield said he had to do what he loves.
"If I'm going to school to play something, it's going to be basketball," he said. "I want to do what my passion is."
He took that passion to Yuba College where he spent two years with the 49ers basketball program, culminating in All-State Player of the Year honors this past season after leading the Niners to the state title game.
Now, he's on his way to a Division-I basketball program.
Today, Butterfield will officially sign his national letter of intent to play basketball for Utah State University, joining teammate Sean Harris, who committed to the Aggies earlier this season.
Butterfield averaged 16 points per game this season for the 49ers and was the Bay Valley Conference MVP.
He will receive a full-ride scholarship from Utah State, which competes in the D-I Western Athletic Conference.
The Aggies won the WAC in 2007-08, '08-09, '09-10 and '10-11, while posting 13 straight 20-win seasons. Utah State has also played in 13 straight postseason tournaments, including the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five seasons.
"Their program speaks for itself," Butterfield said. "I really liked the guys on the team. We all got along instantly. It's a great situation for me because they're looking for a 3-guard."
Butterfield visited the Logan, Utah campus and was blown away by the "top-of-the-line" facilities and beauty of the campus.
He was also recruited heavily by the Atlantic Coast Conference's Virginia Cavaliers, Pepperdine and the University of San Diego.
Utah State's persistence was the main selling point for Butterfield. Coaches called him at least once per week and Butterfield was their first recruit to make an official visit after his buddy, Harris.
Having Doug Cornelius as his head coach at Yuba didn't hurt either. "He's a salesman," Butterfield said. "Yuba's the reason I'm going to Utah State. I wouldn't be going anywhere if it wasn't for (Yuba)."
It wasn't solely Butterfield's talent that led him to this point, though.
Cornelius pointed out that Butterfield may not be in the top 10 of the most gifted players he's ever coached.
The coach said it's the intangibles Butterfield possesses that set him apart from other players.
"We haven't had someone who is that dedicated to the program and that dedicated to winning," Cornelius said. "He's got heart, man. That's what's going to keep him going (at the next level)."
Butterfield didn't settle with one practice a day — the end of practice meant his regimen was just beginning.
He runs bleachers, sprints, lifts weights, spends time in the training room getting stretched out, takes yoga classes, all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA.
Cornelius said he and several other coaches notice one shining characteristic about Butterfield that jumps out when watching him play — toughness.
"If there's somebody else who's working three hours a day, he'll work four hours," Cornelius said. "There's nobody who will take more shots, lift more weights, run more laps, he'll do everything he can do to make sure he's the best player out there."
• Yuba sophomore Anto Olah signed a letter of intent to play for Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Olah earned a full-ride scholarship to play for the NCAA Division II program, which competes in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
• An awards banquet to honor the 2011-12 Yuba College men's team is scheduled for Thursday at Peach Tree Golf & Country Club.
Tickets cost $20 and attendees must RSVP today. There will also be a silent auction to benefit the team.
To make a reservation, call Paula at Peach Tree at 743-1897 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT Jimmy Graben at email@example.com or 749-4791. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADjgraben.