Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts said “she was kind of shocked” when she learned that her high school was going to retire her jersey number.
Her coach, Evelyn Wright, said the honor was overdue.
Butts, the leading scorer and rebounder at Americus High School, will be at a ceremony at Americus High School on Friday evening, when her No. 23 will be retired. The mayor will be there to deliver a proclamation.
“It’s certainly an honor to be recognized,” she said Thursday. “I look at it as an opportunity to go back and really just thank anybody who had anything to do with my career at Americus High School.”
Butts, 32, would go on to Tennessee, helping the Volunteers win national championships in 1997 and 1998. She is entering her third season as Arizona’s head coach.
“She could play any position we needed her to,” Wright told the Americus Times Recorder.
“With her size, she was a great ball handler, a great passer, and she could just do a lot of things with the basketball. She was probably our No. 1 defensive player. She could block shots, rebound and make the outlet pass for the fast break. She was All-Region, she was all everything. She was in control.”
Americus has a population of just over 16,000, and Butts said “life was pretty simple,” growing up there.
“I went to school, did what I was supposed to be, went to basketball practice, and that was about it,” she said.
“It was a community there. If they weren’t related to you, it didn’t really matter. If you weren’t doing what you were supposed to do, I appreciated the next person saying, ‘Hey, you need to get yourself on track.’
“And no one minded doing that because it was all a family. And that is what I appreciated growing up in Americus.”