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The Man In The Middle

by Patrick Gustavson

One of the newest faces to Central Connecticut’s men’s basketball team, Deion Bute has already made his presence known, just six games into the season. And at 6 feet 9 inches, it’s hard to miss him on the court.

Bute comes to CCSU from Tallahassee Community College, but originally hails from St. Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, where he lived until he was 18 years old. Though basketball was popular as a recreational sport, it wasn’t viewed as something one could go to college for, or be recruited for. But Bute knew since he was young that he wanted to play basketball.

He was left with the choice between Monroe, New York and Tallahassee, Florida, and it was his distain for the cold that made his decision easier. At Tallahassee, his accolades consisted of the coaches’ All-Panhandle Conference second team, and the FCSAA all-tournament team.

Following two successful years, it was his mother that brought him to CCSU. “My mom was going through a tough time, with her mom passing, so she’s the main reason that I came up here,” he said.

Bute knew immediately that CCSU was the right place for him. “With the coaching staff, I already felt a love as soon as I came up here,” he said. “It wasn’t ‘get the recruit to commit,’ it was ‘this is what we’re doing, and we want you to be a part of it, because we know it’s going to be special.’ The players were straight up with me. I saw that they had a dream, and that the dream was progressing.”

Bute’s stature and skillset put him in a position to immediately contribute. The Blue Devils lost big men Tidell Pierre and Tafari Whittingham to graduation this season, leaving a massive void in both rebounding and presence in the paint, something that Bute was ready to fill.

“I really didn’t feel any pressure; I was looking forward to it. This is a new situation. I want to play 30 minutes a game, I want to help this team, so, whatever I’ve got to do to fill this void. And I’m looking to do it at an even higher level than they did last year, to help us win,” he said.

Bute has started four of the first five games for the Blue Devils, averaging 11 points and over seven rebounds a game, as well as two blocks. Two games in particular showed his true potential. Against St. John’s and East Carolina, Bute averaged 15 points, ten rebounds and a block, on an astounding 72.2 shooting percentage. This performance led to him being named the Northeast Conference player of the week.

“I wasn’t really expecting it; I didn’t even know we had that from week to week, but it’s a great honor,” Bute shared. “It makes me want to get it again, not in a selfish way, but to keep playing at a high level and give the team their best chance to win.”

“I know I’m a big, and I’m going to be inside, and I’m limited, just because of the style of offense we play, but I don’t mind, because I love this group. But I aim to be the best player on the court, or at least the second-best player on the court. On a week to week basis, I don’t want the co-NEC player of the week, I want the NEC player of the week, every week and every month,” he continued.

Bute strives to continue to improve and play well, with support from his coaches, teammates, and even his peers and teachers at the university, saying: “There’s been a lot of love, especially from the teachers. They’ve been easy to work with, they know that I’m not from here and that I’m still adjusting to things. I adjusted to Florida, and now I’ve got to adjust to Connecticut. People have been doing whatever they can to accommodate me.”