Bute, Batiste, Hicks, Play Final Game As Blue Devils

Patrick Gustavson, Sports Editor

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Saturday marked the last game of the season for Central Connecticut’s men’s basketball team, but it also marked the last time three Blue Devils would take the court at Detrick Gymnasium.

Senior Deion Bute was honored prior to the game as well as junior Tyson Batiste and redshirt sophomore Kashaun Hicks, who are graduating and transferring from the program.

Blue Devil head coach Donyell Marshall pointed out Batiste as a leader, Bute as a hard worker and Hicks as his first recruit.

“The memories we’ve had with them, the laughs and jokes. They’ve always tried to bring the team together and do things for the betterment of the team. So, we’re going to miss all that,” Marshall said of the graduating trio.

Bute, the only true senior of the bunch, was a two-year starter and led the Northeast Conference in field goal percentage this season, all despite not playing organized basketball until he was 20-years-old.

Bute said his favorite part of playing at CCSU was the unity compared to JUCO.

“In JUCO, everyone’s trying to come to DI, so it’s tough, it’s kind of a dog-eat-dog world,” Bute said. “Division I, everyone is working towards a goal. You’re not going any higher unless you go pro. There’s a lot more unity.”

Batiste, a three-year captain, was known for his leadership on and off the court, even suggesting a move to pull himself from the starting lineup in order to improve the team’s offense.

Hicks, Marshall’s first recruit, got his break with the team as a result of the lineup change. He would go on to start the final 10 games of the season.

It was a long time coming for Hicks, who redshirted his freshman season.

“Coming in from high school, you don’t really know what to expect from college,” Hicks said. “It definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.”

Hicks expected to see regular playing time in his second season. Despite showing strong flashes, including a career-high 15 points against LIU Brooklyn, he failed to see consistent playing time, which motivated him coming into this season.

“I thought I was doing things I needed to do, but in their eyes, and that’s really all that matters, I wasn’t doing those things,” Hicks said. “This summer, every day I was in the gym as hard as I could go to try to change the way they thought of me and it led me to [play] a lot this year and ultimately end up starting.”

Hicks flourished in the final three games following the suspension of Tyler Kohl and Joe Hugley, averaging a hair over 10 points in those games.

Batiste also stepped up in that time, showing more aggression on offense.

“I just saw that there was a need to play a little more aggressive just so I could get my team involved a little more,” Batiste said.

Batiste said the decision to transfer was for personal reasons and has no ill feelings.

“I love the coaching staff. I would do anything for them, they know that. But for me, it’s the best opportunity for me going forward to get my masters,” Batiste said.

Both Batiste and Hicks said agreed they would miss the coaching staff the most about CCSU.

“This is really a great coaching staff, regardless of our head butts here and there off the court, they are cool. I can always go to the office and talk to them. It’s been great,” Hicks said.

All three players plan on continuing their basketball career. Batiste has one more year of eligibility and will be able to play immediately. Batiste said his greatest attribute is his willingness to do whatever was asked of him.

“I don’t really care about the glory or anything like that. I can play 10 minutes and be the best bench player in the conference or I can go in there and play 30 minutes and be a serviceable point guard, combo guard, or whatever,” Batiste said. “At the end of the day, it’s just getting my foot in the door to playing next year.”

Thanks to redshirting his freshman year, Hicks has two years of eligibility remaining and feels his versatility is his greatest asset to a new team.

“I’ve played two through four here; I can even bring the ball up. I think the person I am, I only add to teams. I don’t really bring the attitude,” Hicks said. “I try to do whatever the coach needs me to do and whatever I have to bring to the game that I can bring.”

As for Bute, the St. Maarten hopes to continue his career as a professional.

“I’m looking forward to trying to go forward with a pro career, where I can go overseas, represent myself and Central Connecticut and my island as a pro,” Bute said.