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Natalie Butler on the court during a Mason basketball game

Mason basketball star Natalie Butler has been named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week five times. While she’d like to play professionally, she knows that having a Plan B is smart strategy. She’s pursuing a graduate degree in global governance and public management.

Butler Keeps Her Eye on the Ball in Games and in Life

In discussing what she hopes will be her career arc, Natalie Butler put playing professional basketball in the United States or Europe at the top of her list. But George Mason University’s star center also knows she needs a Plan B.

“You have to keep the big picture in mind,” she says. “One day, basketball is not going to be there. You have to have a life plan.”

That is a big reason why Butler enrolled in Mason’s global affairs master’s program when she transferred to Mason last summer from the University of Connecticut.

Fluent in German, thanks to 10 years of study before college, Butler — who graduated from Connecticut with a communication degree — sees herself working in government or as an international consultant.

With a classroom work ethic that matches what she brings to the court, the sky is the limit as to what Butler can accomplish academically, says Lisa Breglia, director of Mason’s Global Affairs Program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Natalie is extremely self-motivated,” Bregila says. “She is engaged, curious, and eager to get out there in the world.”

Butler had other considerations when deciding where to continue her education.

The Fairfax Station, Virginia, native wanted to be close to home and play her final college season in a strong program. After conversations with Mason coach Nyla Milleson, she was convinced.

“Coach Milleson is incredible,” says Butler, whose father, Vernon, played next to NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson at Navy, and helped lead the Midshipmen to the 1986 NCAA Elite Eight. “She’s a huge part of why I came to the program.”

The 6-foot-5 Butler, who was part of Connecticut’s 2016 NCAA championship team, has flourished at Mason, with an average 18.2 points and a Division I-leading 15.2 rebounds (almost two more than any other player) through the team’s first 18 games. She also has been named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week five times.

“We knew she was going to be an impact player,” Milleson says. “The maturity she brings, the experience, the culture, it’s not just basketball. That’s how she lives her life, with discipline and maturity.”

This story was written by Mason Senior Communications Manager Damian Cristodero. Read more Mason news.