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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Lamont Butler celebrates SDSU's win over FAU in the 2023 NCAA Final Four. (SDSU) Lamont Butler celebrates SDSU's win over FAU in the 2023 NCAA Final Four. (SDSU)

Lamont Butler Returning for 2023-24 Basketball Season

The San Diego State guard has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft and will play his senior season for the Aztecs.
By GoAztecs

San Diego State senior Lamont Butler will return to the Aztec basketball program for the 2023-24 campaign, the 6-foot-2 guard announced on Monday. Butler declared for the 2023 NBA Draft but did not hire an agent and maintained his college eligibility. The decision to return to The Mesa comes after testing the NBA Draft waters and gaining feedback from NBA teams.


"After exploring my options and following discussions with both my family and advisors, I have decided to return to San Diego State for my senior season," Butler said. "I'd like to thank everyone I worked with over the last two months, from NBA teams and scouts to the people at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. I'd also like to thank our coaching staff for allowing me the opportunity to gain valuable insight into what it takes to play at the next level.


"I am looking forward to returning to school and completing my degree, and I'm excited to join my teammates for the opportunity to help lead our quest for another Mountain West championship and a return to the NCAA Tournament."


The Moreno Valley, California, native hit what is arguably the biggest shot in program history, the game winner, as time expired, against Florida Atlantic in the Final Four on April 1 in Houston. It is the only buzzer-beater by a trailing team in Final Four history and sent San Diego State to its first men's basketball national championship game.


In six games in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, he averaged 10.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the floor (25-of-50), including 38.9 percent from the bonus distance (7-of-18), and 75.0 percent from the line (6-of-8), while averaging 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. In addition, he had seven steals and two blocks in 28.0 minutes per game and was named to the 2023 NCAA All-Tournament Team.


In the four games in the South Regional, Butler averaged 10.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting from the field (17-of-33), while averaging 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He led the team in scoring, 18 points, in the regional final against Creighton to earn inclusion on the 2023 NCAA Tournament All-South Regional Team.


By a vote of the Mountain West's head coaches, Butler was named to the league's All-Defensive Team and was a third-team All-Mountain West performer in 2022-23. He played in all 39 games, starting 38, and averaged 8.8 points, 3.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds, while shooting 42.1 percent from the floor, 34.2 percent from three-point range, both career highs, and 73.1 percent from the free throw line.


In addition to his honors from the coaches, Butler earned Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and honorable mention All-Mountain West designation from the media who regularly cover the league.


Butler helped lead the Aztecs to the 2022-23 Mountain West regular season and tournament titles, its conference record 15th and 16th crowns. In three games in the league tournament, he averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 28.7 minutes per contest.


Last year among Mountain West performers, he ranked No. 7 in steals, No. 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio and No. 12 in assists. On a national level, he was No. 82 in steals, No. 141 in assists, and No. 199 in steals per game. Additionally, his 32 wins and 126 assists rank No. 7 and No. 20, respectively, in San Diego State single-season history.


Prior to his buzzer-beating heroics in the Final Four, he drained a straightaway triple as the clock expired in a 73-71 victory at New Mexico on Feb. 25, to avenge the team's only loss at home last year.


Butler enters the upcoming season with the opportunity to join some elite Aztec company. He is within striking distance of becoming the third player in program history to score at least 1,000 points, dish out 280 assists and total 170 steals. He needs 337 points, 70 assists and 43 steals to achieve the milestone. When he reaches those plateaus, he will join Aztec Hall of Fame inductee Brandon Heath (2004-07) and Chase Tapley (2009-13) as the only players in San Diego State men's basketball history to achieve the triumvirate.


Last year, Butler led the Aztecs in assists (126) and steals (57), ranked No. 2 in field goals (128), No. 3 in points (345) and minutes (1,010). Among returners from last year's team, he leads the squad in made baskets, assists, steals and ranks second in points (345), minutes (1,010) and assists-to-turnover ratio (1.59:1) and third in 3-pointers (40) and rebounds (105).


The Aztecs finished last season ranked No. 2 in the nation in the Coaches Poll, the highest in program history, and No. 18 in the Associate Press with a 32-7 record, including a 15-1 mark in Mountain West action. The Aztecs win total is the second highest in program history, trailing only the 2010-11 squad which won 34 games.