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Butterfield a blur at Yuba

Del?Oro grad closes in on Division I?dream while leading 49ers team with title aspirations
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Spencer Butterfield is finally making believers out of Division I basketball coaches. Back at Del Oro High, Buttefield was on the D-I radar, but it was as a big, physical wide receiver on the football field. His true passion was basketball and he opted to play hoops at Yuba College. Coach Doug Cornelius and several former high school rivals have helped Butterfield break out as one of the top players in the state junior college ranks. The 6-3, 205-pound Butterfield is averaging close to 25 points per game to go with 8.5 rebounds. He’s helped the 49ers compile a 27-3 record heading into today’s Bay Valley Conference tournament semifinal. “This year’s definitely been good,” Butterfield said. “I’m more confident this year and this is the best team I’ve ever played with. If we don’t win state, I’ll be disappointed.” Butterfield captains a Yuba team that is loaded with stars from the Sierra Foothill League. Rocklin graduates Cody Kale and Anthony Romero are major contributors. Roseville product Kevin Crabb is a factor for the 49ers and Woodcreek’s Nick Alongi is a valuable role player. “They were all rivals in high school in the SFL and they’ve bonded into this great group,” said Cornelius, who has built Yuba into one of the top programs in Northern California. “Spencer is kind of the unofficial leader. He’s a brutally hard worker. He works almost too much. He’s having a great year.” Butterfield’s signature performance came last month against Merritt College. He went off for 42 points, but he didn’t stop there. The small forward tracked down 12 rebounds, picked off five steals and added five assists. Later that week he had 32 points, 11 rebounds and four steals in a showdown with Mendocino, which had been undefeated in the BVC. Butterfield said he’s focused on improving his outside shot since arriving in Marysville in 2010. “I shoot from the outside a lot more than I used to,” he said. “I used to be a drive-first player.” Weekend trips to Loomis have helped Butterfield refine his shooting stroke. He credits his brother Taylor – a senior at Del Oro – for pushing him. “We just love to play together,” Butterfield said. “He’s a big reason why I’m better this year.” Division I schools are noticing Butterfield’s improved shot that now complements his speed in the open court and his ability to slash to the hoop. Cornelius said Butterfield has scholarship offers from the University of Pacific and UC Riverside. Utah, Hawaii and San Jose State have shown interest and the coach is confident more schools will join the chase. “The farther we go in the playoffs, the more exposure he’ll get,” Cornelius said. Butterfield is no slouch in the classroom, where he sports a 3.8 GPA. He’s interested in studying kinesiology and pursuing a career in physical therapy. Butterfield isn’t getting ahead of himself. Yuba is looking to defend its top seed in the BVC tournament this week before venturing into the state playoffs. His focus is on the team’s success rather than the recruiting buzz that is building. “I’m taking it all, trying to stay focused on this season,” he said. “I’ll start making decisions after the state tournament. Right now it’s just hoops, playing basketball.”