A year ago, Big East Coast Bias’ Andrew Padyk wrote on 2015 Butler commit Nate Fowler and the type of skillset he would be bringing to the Bulldogs. It went a little something like this:
When Nathan Fowler was recruited to Butler, it was due to the fact that his presence in the frontcourt would give the Bulldogs a sizable addition. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, the three-star recruit from Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio was easily a target of interest for the Bulldogs given his size and the additional depth he would bring to the front court. Fowler's abilities will be the perfect in pairing and rotating with Andrew Chrabascz, Jackson Davis, and Tyler Wideman. For Holtmann, Fowler's abilities present a terrific skill level and will have an impact from the moment he hits the court.
Fast forward one year later and unfortunately the three-star recruit from Ohio didn’t quite live up to the prophecy. Fowler played in just 20 games as a freshman and logged merely 125 minutes, not nearly enough to gather a sample size worth discussing with regards to statistics. His per 40 minutes and per 100 possession numbers were pretty impressive, especially the latter, as Fowler amassed marks of 10.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per 100 possessions in his first year as a Bulldog.
That not withstanding, Fowler was barely seen or heard from. Using KenPom’s player stats tables, Fowler was one of three players to be noted as a “benchwarmer,” joining Steven Bennett and Trey Pettus in logging fewer than 10 percent of the team’s minutes. Fowler was the highest of the bunch, checking in at 9.4 percent, but it wasn’t enough to log him up as a role player or even someone playing a limited role.
The frontcourt was pretty crowded for Butler a year ago with the likes of Tyler Wideman and Andrew Chrabascz primarily playing down low while Kelan Martin also played the ‘4’ at times with Austin Etherington being out on the wing as a ‘3.’ A similar situation arises in 2016. Although Etherington is gone, prized recruit Joey Brunk will be stepping into the fold and although freshmen haven’t typically played a lot under Chris Holtmann with the exception of the aforementioned Martin, Brunk figures to be a getting into the rotation a decent amount if he performs at a high level.
So where does that leave Nate Fowler? Fowler may go the route of former Bulldog Jackson Davis who took a leap in production and role from his freshman-to-sophomore season and get into the rotation in the second unit when Chrabascz and Wideman aren’t on the floor. With that said, it will again be a crowded field that he is playing in, and there’s no telling what kind of lineup that Holtmann will go with when the season arrives. He often played small last year and didn’t dip into his resources but now with two players standing 6’10 on the roster, he will have his opportunities to between Fowler and Brunk.
In his case, it will be intriguing to watch Fowler in 2016 and see whether he is able to separate himself amongst the pack and frontcourt talent that the Bulldogs have, or if history repeat itself and he finds himself lost in the shuffle again.