NEW BRITAIN - While CCSU graduate Deion Bute pondered the next move of his basketball career, he acknowledged that whichever path he chose, it would likely lead to an unfamiliar place.
Bute was choosing between a trio of teams in the European Leagues, but when he visited Hestia Menorca of the LEB Silver league in Spain, he received a pleasant surprise: a place he had never visited before felt like home.
“The team is on an island and it kind of reminded me of back home,” said Bute, a native of Philipsburgh, Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the Caribbean island Saint Martin. “Growing up in the Caribbean on a small island myself, it really felt like home to me. The general manager reached out to me and told me how they thought I was a good fit and they couldn’t wait to have me. They showed me love as I was committing, which I really appreciated.”
For Bute, his commitment to play professional basketball overseas felt as far away as Menorca when summer began. Having just graduated from CCSU, Bute moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to refine his craft and ponder his next move. Nothing immediately presented itself, so Bute took the only course he could control: he hit the gym and improved his game.
“That’s all I focused on for three months,” Bute said. “I worked on my body and my game. I was out of school for the first time and was just trying to get with the right people that could help me get to where I needed to go.”
Bute ended up meeting the right people, signing on with Duran International, a global basketball agency with heavy ties to professional teams overseas. Not long after, Bute was preparing to move once again, this time across the Atlantic.
“They started to promote me very aggressively,” But said. “They helped promote me the right way and steer me in the right direction and find me some opportunities.”
Having completed his goal of earning a pro contract, Bute must immediately face his next challenge of adapting to a new place and a new culture, as high flight for Spain took off on Tuesday night. Luckily for Bute, adapting to new surroundings has become a developed habit.
“Throughout my five years in the U.S., I’ve had to adapt from my own culture to American culture and I can take that experience to Spain,” Bute said. “It should make the transition a little easier.”
Those who have come to know Bute after his two seasons with the Blue Devils have no doubt he will fit right in on a new team and a new continent.
“Deion really deserves to play professional basketball,” CCSU head coach Donyell Marshall said. “He came over to the U.S. and basically walked into Tallahassee (Fl.) Community College and said he wanted to play basketball. He really didn’t play any basketball before that. He goes there for two years and comes to Central and developed every year.”
When Marshall brought in Bute to play for the Blue Devils, he was welcoming a raw 6-foot-9 center who had plenty of work to do on the offensive end of the floor. What Marshall wound up getting in Bute was an efficient scorer who shot 59.8 percent from the floor as a senior, good for second in the NEC, while logging four double-doubles and a Northeast Conference Player of the Week selection.
“You never really thought he would be counted on offensively,” Marshall said. “We just thought he was a hard-nosed center, but he wound up averaging over nine points and seven rebounds for us. He developed a lot over two years.”
Bute’s two seasons with the Blue Devils wasn’t easy. The center overcame a pair of knee surgeries and still logged 61 games in a CCSU uniform after learning the sport on the fly in Tallahassee. Perhaps his imperfect transitions to Florida and eventually Central Connecticut helped him in this next phase of his career, which landed him a plane ticket to Spain and a professional basketball contract.
“It was well worth it,” Bute said. “I learned a lot through this entire process.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org