GUYTON — South Effingham’s Andrew Butler is playing basketball for more than just bragging rights. When he steps onto the court, he wants to represent his hardworking mother in a way that will make her proud and reflect his family’s work ethic.
"It's been a lot between me and my parents," Butler said. "I just have my mom and my stepdad. My mom works hard."
As a sophomore for the South Effingham basketball team, he's hoping to cultivate a tradition of success. The 6-foot-1 guard's desire to be the greatest comes from a family that prides itself in winning.
Butler, who transferred from Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School, watched his brothers, Devin and Rashamel Butler, win countless games for the Jaguars and reach a South Carolina High School League final in 2018. But even so, the pressure became too much for Butler to handle and he opted to blaze his own path with a new team.
"I felt like people were saying I was living in my brother's shadow and I didn't like that," he said. "I came here to fulfill my own goals."
The change of scenery allows Butler, now a teammate with his cousin, Jimmie Myers, to hone his skills without having to live up to what his older brothers achieved. And he's learning a new system with a bunch of players he's never played with before.
Butler likes the idea of being able to take his time and work on his game without the burden of anyone else's expectations.
"I think it’s been going good," Butler said. "We have a good team. We are a work in progress."
Butler himself is still learning the ins and outs of the game. He remembers being the smallest kid in his group when he was in the first grade but he quickly grew. The growth spurt caused him to work on his 3-pointers, an area of his game where he feels he excels.
So far, Butler is averaging 14 points and six rebounds a game.
"I had to work inside first and then get back to my outside shot because my shot was a little off," Butler said. "You have to concentrate and hope it goes in."
Butler admires the game of Derrick Rose and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and said his favorite team is the Chicago Bulls. With that in mind, Butler wants to build his own dream team with the Mustangs and cites last year's one-win season as his motivation.
"My mentality coming into the season was to not let what happened last season happen again," Butler said. "I want to ball out. I tell everybody to ball out and we can make it. I stay in my game and go out there and do what I do best and get my team involved.
“It's a lot of work because I am new here, so I don't know what everybody is good at yet. When we are in practice, we all work together. I just take it one game at a time and try to make it to state."