Hard work pays off big for Gators’ Butler

Published 6:55 am Saturday, March 28, 2020

Two years ago, Cameron Butler’s trajectory looked like a lot of good young high school basketball players. He had gotten plenty of playing time and contributed as a sophomore, and seemed ready for a breakout junior season.

Instead, he hit a wall.

A large senior class took most of the playing time during the 2018-19 season, and Butler’s stats plummeted. After averaging 7.2 points per game as a sophomore, he only scored 2.0 per game as a junior. It was, he admits, more than a little depressing.

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“At first I was mad. I had played my whole sophomore year, and then to go to not playing. I just kept my faith in God and praying about it. Everything happens for a reason,” Butler said. “I was kind of down. It messes with your confidence. So once I got out of my little crybaby mode I just started working hard — real hard.”

Butler outworked, and outplayed, everyone else in Warren County. As a senior he got back on his upward trajectory and rocketed into the stratosphere.

Butler averaged 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game and led the Gators to a 20-10 record. The 6-foot guard signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College, and has now capped his career by winning The Vicksburg Post’s boys’ basketball Player of the Year award.

“I’m just thankful. Very thankful,” Butler said. “At the beginning of the season, Coach (Kelvin) Carter made us write down our goals and that was on top of my list.”

Butler’s senior year success was born of hard work and dedication. He joined Vicksburg’s cross country team in 2018 to help improve his conditioning. During the school’s activities period, head coach Kelvin Carter said, Butler would spend the hour putting up shots in the gym.

“He would come in during fourth block every day and would wear that shooting machine out. He’d take 300 or 400 shots every day,” Carter said.

The extra work started to show up in the summer of 2019. With the six seniors who had taken so much of the playing time the season before gone, Butler seized his opportunity to not only re-emerge as a top player, but as a team leader.

“He showed sparks his sophomore year, but last summer he showed he could get the job done,” Carter said. “He led us in scoring the whole summer and showed he was going to be a real leader for us.”

When the season began in November, Butler did not back off. He tied his career high with 18 points in the season opener against Natchez, and scored in double figures in each of the first six games. After a brief lull in December, he ripped off 16 consecutive double-figure efforts.

In 16 games during his junior season, Butler scored a total of 32 points.

Butler’s best game was in an 85-50 rout of Grenada in the first round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs. He went 12-for-13 from the field, 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and scored a career-high 29 points.

Butler said his focus was not on scoring, but rather doing whatever the team needed him to do in order to be successful. The Gators had their first 20-win season since 2011 and reached the second round of the playoffs for the third time in four years.

“I worked probably 10 times harder my junior year. I wasn’t really working hard toward individual goals. If they happened they happened. I was working hard toward winning a state championship, and everything else just happened from me working hard,” Butler said.

Butler’s next step is to college, as he heads off to Co-Lin this summer. The coronavirus outbreak has slowed his preparation, but not surprisingly he’s already thinking about what it’ll take to succeed at the next level.

“I’m just ready for this virus to be over so I can get back to work,” he said.

Vicksburg Post Boys Players of the Year
2020 – Cameron Butler, Vicksburg
2019 – Devan Kiner, Vicksburg
2018 – Chavis Smith, Warren Central
2017 – Kirk Parker, Vicksburg
2016 – Shaun Walton, Warren Central
2015 – Mario Doyle, Warren Central
2014 – De’Angelo Richardson, Vicksburg
2013 – Ted Brisco, Porters Chapel
2012 – Kourey Davis, Warren Central
2011 – Mychal Ammons, Vicksburg
2010 – Mychal Ammons and Kelsey Howard, Vicksburg
2009 – Kelsey Howard, Vicksburg
2008 – Jonathan Phelps, Vicksburg
2007 – Jonathan Phelps, Vicksburg
2006 – Hayden Hales, Porter’s Chapel
2005 – Chico Hunter, Warren Central
2004 – Kyle Richards, St. Aloysius
2003 – Devin Jones, Vicksburg
2002 – Willie Powers, Vicksburg
2001 – Demetrick Allen, Vicksburg
2000 – Herman Griffin, Vicksburg
1999 – Jason Johnson, St. Aloysius
1998 – Coleman Lewis, Warren Central
1997 – Brandon Carr, Porter’s Chapel
1996 – Quentin Smith, Vicksburg
1995 – Quentin Smith, Vicksburg
1994 – Oscar Denton, Vicksburg
1993 – Mark Smith, Vicksburg

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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