By Tom Ballato
Former George Mason standout Lamar Butler who lead George Mason on their historic run to the Final Four in 2006, is back ready to lead again. This time Butler will be on the sidelines coaching The Green Machine, a team in The Basketball Tournament composed of George Mason alumni.
When Butler committed to play at George Mason, being close to home was a priority for him so his parents could see him play. He wanted to build a national program in Fairfax, Virginia with his teammates, something that they accomplished while they played at Mason. Out of the gate, he played big minutes and had a large role as a freshman for coach Jim Larrañaga, something that continued to grow throughout his four year career. He finished his career at George Mason averaging 12.1 points per game and ranks first all-time in the team’s history with 295 three points made. He was part of two NIT appearances and the historic run to the Final Four in 2006.
Lamar had a lot of great memories during his time with the team. His favorite regular season memory from his time at Mason came during his senior year. “We were down 20 at half, at Hofstra. Folarin Campbell lead the huddle at the half and we came back and won. Campbell took leadership and he arrived.”
When George Mason got an at large bid in 2006, they were coming off two losses in ten days to Hofstra, including the semifinal loss in the CAA Tournament. When asked how they went on such an epic run after that in the NCAA Tournament, Butler explained, “We were a confident group. What motivated us was commentators on TV saying we didn’t belong. It gave us fuel to prove others wrong.” What also stood out to Lamar and the team was Coach Larrañaga preaching to them to, “Play hard, play smart, play together.”
Lamar went on to play professionally in the Czech Republic, Turkey, and the NBA Developmental League after college. Lamar talked about his career overseas and said, “You need to bring your A game or they will replace you.” Lamar talked about how it is a different society overseas and you really need to lookout for yourself. The hardest thing for him playing overseas was having a coach that didn’t speak English. He also spent time with the Colorado 14ers and Reno Bighorns in the NBA Developmental League.
Lamar is now an AAU coach for Team Takeover and at Paul IV High School in Fairfax, Virginia. He said that he still has a strong relationship with his former coach and sees coach Larrañaga all year round while he’s on the recruiting trail.
Lamar recently announced that he will be coaching The Green Machine, an alumni team in the TBT Tournament. “They are Mason brothers, former greats. You root for guys you didn’t play with. Suiting up with the guys will be something special.” The team has announced some notable Mason alumni, Folarin Campbell, Mike Morrison, Ryan Pearson, Isaiah Tate, Byron Allen, Will Thomas, and Sherrod Wright. The team’s general manager, Johnny Coleman said, “These guys are arguably the most successful players Mason has ever had, from the most successful era.” Also filling out The Green Machine’s staff are Corey Edwards and Killian Reilly. Edwards played at George Mason for four years and Reilly was a team manager.
Every time Butler returns to George Mason, he exclaims, “It is always home. You see pictures and banners. Your legacy is cemented.” Butler will be leading the way for The Green Machine this summer with hopes to cement George Mason’s legacy in the TBT Tournament.