SCHMIDT: Butler looking for seasonal work

In two weeks time, the seniors on the men’s basketball team will face a task far more perilous than stopping Connecticut junior guard Kemba Walker or trying to syphon through the iron clamps of Syracuse’s zone defense:

They’ll need to find a job.

And forward Rob Frozena, bless him, probably doesn’t have a future in basketball. But with his dogged determination, he’ll probably be a success in whatever career avenue he chooses.

Guard Dwight Buycks, the Milwaukee native, has the skills to make it as a pro overseas, if he decides the gas prices and poor hygiene are worth combating on a daily basis. So does forward Joe Fulce, but apparently he’s set on becoming a rapper. If that doesn’t work out, he definitely has a career as a Mick Jagger impersonator.

Those aren’t bad professions. But frankly, forward Jimmy Butler should strive for something more. And I hear the NBA needs seasonal employees seven months out of the year, nine if we’re including the postseason.

Butler might not seem like a prototypical pro prospect because he’s not. He’s not particularly big for a forward, or athletic or skilled or … anything. But he has special quality that can’t be measured or quantified at a draft combine: heart.

And Butler has miles of it.

That’s a scarce commodity in a league where players go through the motions and get blown through on defense like a wet Kleenex. A few months ago a couple of NBA vets said Los Angeles Clippers dunk-machine Blake Griffin tries too hard. If they think that, wait until they get a load of Butler.

All he does is try. He’s a whirling dervish of energy and arms and legs, pouring out over the court, suffocating, bothering, annoying. He’s a wind turbine in a uniform.

What’s more, he compares favorably to former Marquette star-guard and current Portland Trailblazer wonder-reserve Wesley Matthews. Matthews had a bit more of a storied Marquette career than Butler, and he was physically stronger and more NBA-ready at the same age, but the two were clearly cut from the same cloth. Which was probably a sweaty headband.

In fact, the “Matthews Factor” might be the single-biggest reason Butler could sneak into the second round of the draft come August. After Matthews went undrafted two years ago and then emerged as one of the league’s best bench players, scouts seem to think something special — something that was previously being overlooked — is going on at Marquette.

It’s the only way you explain forward Lazar Hayward as a first-rounder last year. Not to knock Zar — he’s my all-time favorite Golden Eagle — but talent and potential weren’t the reasons Washington drafted him. It was the thought that Marquette players have this unteachable quality, this do-or-die, let-it-all-hang-out playing style.

It’s not the X Factor. It’s the Matthews Factor. And Butler has it in spades.

There’s a select fraternity of NBA players who, on paper, had no earthly business succeeding. Guys who lack all of the peripherals but have an inner fire. They hustle, they dive, they fall, they bang bodies. And if Butler had a player card, those would be his only stats.

If trying hard was the most important thing in life, Butler would be king of the universe. He can succeed in the NBA because his heart won’t accept no for answer. He’s going to be an ever-present nuisance taking on bigger, badder opponents the same way fleas drive dogs batty.

It’s not pretty, but it’s what Butler does.

And he can put that on his resume.