Stevens' Butler Link Lives on via Draft Workouts
WALTHAM, Mass. – Brad Stevens is now three years removed from his coaching days at Butler University, but during the last two springs the Celtics coach has had a unique chance to reconnect to his collegiate coaching roots via pre-draft workouts.
One such opportunity arose Monday afternoon, as the Celtics welcomed Butler seniors Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, among 10 other NBA hopefuls, to their training facility for a workout.
Dunham’s freshman season was Stevens’ last at the university, while Jones played under Stevens for two campaigns before the coach departed for his current role with the Celtics.
Together, the pair represents Stevens’ last two remaining direct connections to Butler. Given the fact that this would be his last opportunity to host a pair of his former collegiate athletes for a workout, he cherished every moment he had with them during the last two days.
Dunham and Jones arrived to Boston on Sunday and spent the evening with the Stevens family, before suiting up for their former coach the following afternoon.
“We enjoy each other’s company,” Stevens said following Monday’s workout. “It’s been fun to continue to be connected to Butler in different ways and to continue to be able to watch them grow and play. They both had really, really good careers.”
Jones had a consistent role for the Bulldogs during each of his four campaigns with the program, posting career averages of 11.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. This past season, the energetic 6-foot-4 forward posted career-high marks of 13.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.7 APG and 1.5 steals per game.
Stevens noted that Jones has a unique ability to “put the ball on the floor and create mismatches, one through five, on offense and defense.”
Dunham, meanwhile, served as Butler’s primary scorer over the last three seasons, having averaged at least 16.0 PPG and 2.3 3-point makes during each of those campaigns.
Though Stevens only coached Dunham for one season, he’s very aware of his tendencies, as he has been keeping close tabs on him for the past seven years or so.
“Ever since I started watching him as a 15-year-old kid, he’s been one of the more forceful cutters with the ability to shoot off screens that I’ve seen,” he remarked.
Between Dunham’s scoring ability, Jones’ valuable versatility, and a talented supporting cast led by head coach Chris Holtmann, the Bulldogs have continued to experience success during life after Stevens.
The fact that the program continues to have players earning NBA attention like Dunham and Jones did today is proof of that success.
“I think that’s a good statement for the [Butler] program that it’s been really good, but that was long before I got there and it will be the case long after I leave,” said Stevens. “It’s a fun thing for me to follow and it’s even more fun to see them up close wearing the Celtics gear and everything else as they compete against each other.”
Monday may not be Stevens’ last chance to have Butler athletes work out for the Celtics in Waltham, as the Bulldogs continue to produce solid talent. But the coach cherished this day, knowing that it would be his final opportunity to host his former collegiate players for such an event.