SAN ANTONIO, Texas – After dominating the competition and setting school, conference and national records, University of Tennessee at Martin senior guard Heather Butler has earned a spot on the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars. Butler becomes the first player in UT Martin and Ohio Valley Conference history to play in the WNBA.
Butler, a native of Medina, Tenn., earned a spot on the Stars training camp team prior to the season before being named to the squad’s 12-player roster. Butler joins the Stars first round pick and Notre Dame standout Kayla McBride as the only rookies to make the veteran led squad, beating out two draft picks and several undrafted free agents.
“This feeling is absolutely amazing,” said Butler. “It is such a dream come true. Nobody understands how hard the road to get to this level is until you do it yourself. This journey has been difficult but I am so excited for where I am right now. Since I was little, this has always been the goal and it is surreal that it is in my hands now. I am excited to get the season underway.”
Knowing that even with the expanded rosters by the WNBA for the 2014 season, making the 12-player squad was going to be an uphill battle heading into training camp. Butler made the most of her opportunities in camp, averaging five points in 11 minutes per game. She scored a preseason-high seven points and two rebounds in a 76-75 loss to the Tulsa Shock.
With her numbers ranking sixth on the squad, Butler went into the final days of preseason with the hopes of making the squad. Her dreams became reality during film session this afternoon. “When we walked into watch film this afternoon, coach scanned the room and told us that we were the 12 players that he was going to start the season with,” said Butler. “As soon as his words sunk in, I was in complete shock.”
In her time as a Skyhawk, Butler broke the OVC’s all-time scoring record this season as she finished her career with 2,865 career points, which ranks 16th in NCAA women’s basketball history.
Along with being named the OVC Female Athlete of the Year just yesterday, Butler was named the Tennessee Sports Writers’ Association Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and OVC Player of the Year. Butler earned first-team All-OVC honors for the fourth-straight season in leading the Skyhawks to a school-record 24 victories, the OVC regular season title, its fourth-straight OVC Tournament Championship and its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
During the season she averaged 23.6 points per game which ranked ninth nationally. She scored in double figures in all 129 games of her career, marking the second-longest streak in NCAA history. She also made 392 career 3-pointers, tying the NCAA all-time record. She scored 44 points in two games this season to tie the UTM single-game record; during the season she also set Skyhawk records for 3-point field goals made in a game (9), career field goals made (958), career field goals attempted (2,417), career 3-pointers made (392) and career 3-pointers attempted (1,074).
Butler was one of five finalists nationally for the Nancy Lieberman Award and was named OVC Player of the Week a league-best five times during the season. She was also a Senior CLASS Award first-team All-American selection, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Female Amateur Athlete of the Year, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, an OVC Scholar-Athlete and a nominee for the AllState WBCA Good Works Team.
Butler and the Stars will open the 2014 season on Friday, May 16 when they travel to play the Atlanta Dream. The Stars will have their home opener on Saturday, May 17 against the Tulsa Shock.