Butler and Bates sound like partners in a prestigious Wall Street law firm, but are counselors of a different breed.

Bill Butler and Harold Bates, two area residents, have taken the role of big brother to many academic-deficient high school student-athletes.

Over the last 10 years, they have managed to get more than 175 area players into college. Many of them lacked the grades or aspiration to attend college.

"All I say is give him a chance. If he fails, well that's another story," said Butler, a coach at the No. 2 Police Boys Club in Northwest Washington. "Many of our kids don't have pride in academics. Some are looking just to get out of poverty as fast as they can and feel pro ball is the right route. Many are after the fast life associated with pro athletes. They just don't understand, everybody can't and won't be a pro."

Butler, a snazzy dresser with graying sideburns and wide smile, estimates he has sent more than 140 youngsters to school, 40 to the West Coast alone.

"I get them in school out there and many of them don't come back because they like it so much," said Butler. "College life gives these kids a chance to see how other people live. They get a chance to grow socially and hopefully, academically."

Butler has contacts at schools all athletes for 27 years, also takes great pride in the fact that many of the high school players who earned all-Met and all-American actually got their start as eight-year-old at the club.

Billy Gaskins (Cardoza, Oregon), John Austin (De Matha, Boston College), Ed Epps (Cardoza, Utah State), Austin Carr (Mackin, Notre Dame, Cleveland Cavaliers) and Curtis Perry (Western SW Missouri, Phoenix Suns) all played for Butler as children.

"You know the superstars will get their scholarships," Butler said, "but who looks out for the average players?"

Butler has contacts at schools all over the country. Often, college coaches will all him before they begin recruiting in Washington.

"He tells me where the players are," said Louisiana State University coach Dale Brown. "He does it because he loves the kids. If he tells you someone help him get a kid into schools, I'll do it. I kown a lot of other coahes who will do the same thing.

Bates and his Executive III Community Service Organization are based on the same principle - help the kids who can't help themselves.

"It was Butler and Ken Freeman [former basketball coach at Fairmount Heights and now assistant principal at Northwestern], who get me motivated in helping kids," said Bates, the director of the group.

"Our kids don't realize the numerical games involved in the proworld but once they get basketball in their system, it's like a disease. Kids refuse to give up. They keep trying and trying. Many of them are just riding for a fall."

The Executive III group concentrates its efforts on youths, many with academic problems, who cannot qualify for college primarily by the junior college route.

"We deal with kids who have gotten out to the mainstream of society," Bates said. "We think if a kid really wants to go to college, he should have the opportunity.

"We don't encourage any kids to go professional. Many can't handle the failure which is surely to come. Making pro ball should never be a do-or-die situation. What has happened to many of our black kids has been a tragedy.

"The peer pressure is the greatest enemy of these kids. With no leadership at home in that direction; it takes a strong-wiled younsters to concentrate on academics and think of athletics as only a free trip through college."

"Somewhere along the way, some realize the significance of an education," added Butler, "and as long as I have contacts with these schools, I'll keep sending the kids out there."