Butler senior guard is enjoying magical ride
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Butler's basketball players lifted Nate Snodgrass on their shoulders and carried him off the court after Saturday's victory against North Allegheny. It was a form of hero worshipping.
But it was simply payback to Snodgrass.
Snodgrass, a senior point guard, has lifted Butler to great heights. He has been pure magic in the first two rounds of the WPIAL playoffs, adding to a memorable season and doing things that make playoff legends. He has transformed himself from a point guard who scored fewer than 10 points a game last season to one who has 33 and 34 points in the first two Class AAAA playoff games.
On top of all that, Snodgrass has gone from a player who had only Division III colleges interested in him to one who has received two Division I scholarship offers in the past few weeks, with the possibility of an offer from Duquesne in the future. All this for the player with a 4.4 grade point average.
"It is the stuff of legends," said Butler coach Matt Clement.
Snodgrass said, "It definitely seems like a magical run, almost like one of the March Madness Cinderella stories [in the NCAA tournament]."
Just call it February Fantasy.
Snodgrass has helped make Butler (13-11) like the Butler of the past two NCAA tournaments. Snodgrass (6 feet 1, 165 pounds) had a terrific regular season, averaging 19 points a game. But in the playoffs, he has been in a different stratosphere. He had 33 points in a first-round upset of No. 2 seed Chartiers Valley and scored 12 points in the final quarter to bring Butler back from an eight-point deficit.
In the quarterfinals Saturday against North Allegheny, Snodgrass had only two points in the first half, but finished with 34. He made a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to tie the score and made the winning basket in overtime with two seconds left.
"He's just someone the kids rally around," Clement said.
Snodgrass has been a varsity starter since his freshman year. He always had a good handle, but he became a totally different player this season, scoring with regularity. For the season, he is averaging 20.9 points, shooting 49 percent from the field, 44 percent from 3-point range (26 of 59) and 90 percent (170 of 189) from the free-throw line. He also averages 5.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
"We had more players who could score last year, so I knew coming into this year that I had to step up and score more," Snodgrass said.
Clement, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, has a half-court gym building in his backyard, and Snodgrass was there so much last summer, it was like he was Clement's fourth son. Snodgrass didn't play AAU basketball last summer, but simply got better and attracted Division I colleges by what he did for his high school team, and not in AAU.
"He got his pull-up jumper better and worked on his strength, speed and jump shot," Clement said.
Navy offered Snodgrass a scholarship a few weeks ago, and Saint Francis followed. But Duquesne coach Ron Everhart also has become extremely interested, and Clement said a scholarship offer from the Dukes is a definite possibility.
"I have to continue to work hard, get stronger and improve my athleticism, but I definitely think I can play at that level," Snodgrass said.
On the high school level, Snodgrass is on top of the world right now. But up next Wednesday night is a semifinal game against defending WPIAL Class AAAA champion Gateway.
"I don't know what he does for an encore," Clement said. "But I hope it's something special."
Butler's Nate Snodgrass is averaging 33.5 points per game in the WPIAL playoffs.
First Published February 28, 2012 12:00 am