WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (KAIT) - Just three games into his junior year, Williams Baptist forward Shackeel Butters sustained an eye injury that nearly ended his career.
“We were at practice and we were going over some drills," Butters said. "And one of the guys had long fingernails and he poked in my eyes. And my eye started bleeding and then we went to the doctor. Basically, he said, I had a minor tear in my retina and they diagnosed me with Retinoschisis and iris degneration so we had to have surgery on that.”
Two seasons ago he averaged a double-double (11.9 pt/gm, 11.7 reb/gm), and earned NAIA Honorable Mention All-American honors. The Freeport, Bahamas native was expected to do the same and then some last season.
“Really good kid. Unbelievable competitor,” said WBU assistant coach Stanley Malcolm. “We were expecting really big things from him and unfortunate events came his way. You can’t ever expect injuries to come but they just do.”
Spending a lengthy amount of time off of the floor really proved to be a big test of faith.
“My mindset was just all over the place, but I know I had to keep it together for my teammates,” Butters said. “I couldn’t let them see me being you know upset, not being able to play with them. So it was just more mental, so I had to stay focused and make sure I encourage my teammates to do their best.”
Now healthy and back on the floor, Shackeel is practicing and preparing for his junior season. His sights are set sky high.
“He’s highly motivated, he’s ready to go,” Malcolm said. “He’s actually put in a lot of work to get in better shape than he was when he was playing at his best. And he’s worked on a few things that were a few of his weaknesses and I’m expecting big things from him and so is the program.”
Butters added: “That’s just a stepping stone and trust me, my name is going to be heard around this country.”