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Colorado Basketball – Spring/Summer, 2021

August 4th

… CU in the Arena … 

Report: Spencer Dinwiddie signs three-year, $62 million contract with Washington Wizards

From ESPN … Free-agent guard Spencer Dinwiddie is nearing a deal with the Washington Wizards, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday. The deal is reportedly a three-year, $62 million contract.

The move would give the Wizards a replacement for Russell Westbrook, whom the team has agreed to trade to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dinwiddie, 28, played only three games for the Brooklyn Nets last season after suffering a partial tear of his right ACL against Charlotte on Dec. 27.

The injury required surgery and knocked him out for the rest of the season, and Dinwiddie later declined his $12.3 million player option for the 2021-22 season to become an unrestricted free agent.

After tearing his left ACL during his final season at Colorado in 2014, Dinwiddie spent two years with the Detroit Pistons before beginning the 2016-17 season in the G League.

It was from there that the Brooklyn Nets signed him, beginning a path that saw Dinwiddie become a 20-point-per-game scorer last season, offering a unique combination of size and skill as a 6-foot-5 point guard.

Mason Faulkner’s “career” at CU ends before it begins

From the Daily Camera … The Colorado men’s basketball team already was facing a dramatic youth infusion into its rotation for the 2021-22 season.

Now the Buffaloes have lost one of their more experienced backcourt options without seeing him play a single game in black and gold.

On Tuesday night, guard Mason Faulkner announced via his Instagram page that he is leaving CU in order to be closer to his family in Kentucky. It was unclear if Faulkner still intends to use his extra sixth season of eligibility, but 247Sports.com reported Faulkner took an unofficial visit to Louisville on Tuesday.

Faulkner already has weathered a nomadic collegiate career, appearing in the 2017 NCAA Tournament as a freshman at Northern Kentucky. After two seasons at Northern Kentucky, Faulkner transferred to Western Carolina. Faulkner was a first team All-Southern Conference selection during the 2019-20 season for the Catamounts, averaging 17.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists.

Continue reading story here

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July 30th

… CU in the Arena … 

McKinley Wright goes undrafted; signs free agent deal with Minnesota

From the Daily Camera … McKinley Wright IV just wanted a team, any team, to give him a chance.

It turned out a familiar franchise was willing to grant Wright, a Minnesota native, that wish.

Although CU’s all-time assists leader didn’t hear his name during the 60-player NBA draft on Thursday night, ESPN reported soon afterward that Wright has agreed to a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

… Wright was hoping to become the 36th NBA draft pick in CU Buffs history, and he would have been the seventh under head coach Tad Boyle. That list includes Alec Burks (12th overall, 2011), Andre Roberson (26th, 2013), Spencer Dinwiddie (38th 2014), Derrick White (29th 2017), George King (59th 2018), Tyler Bey (36th 2020).

Wright left an indelible impression in the CU record book beyond his career assists mark (683), finishing his career ranked sixth all-time in scoring (1,857), sixth in made field goals (668), and first in double-digit scoring games (109). Wright also ranks 10th in made 3-pointers (133), ninth in made free throws (388), tied for ninth in free throw percentage (.803), tied for 10th in steals (140), and tied for 20th in rebounds (644).

Wright’s 130 starts are tied for second all-time, and his 131 games played are tied for fifth. He also played the second-most minutes in program history (4,339), trailing all-time leader Cory Higgins (4,478). No other CU player collected more double-digit assist games than the 10 recorded by Wright.

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July 20th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tad Boyle reflects on his time at CU: “You have to get guys that own the jersey in college”

From MileHighSports … After the intense basketball season that he’d just been through, Tad Boyle was looking forward to a day on the golf course. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. What was supposed to be a fun 18-hole chat about basketball and life at CU turned into a tabletop conversation in the clubhouse.

“I’m bummed,” Tad says. “I love golf. I got to play 80 times last year.”

How many rounds do you normally get in a year?

“Maybe 20,” he says.

COVID has certainly changed a lot in the last year. Rather than hitting the road on the recruiting trail, Boyle – like a lot of Americans – opted for time outside on the course. He spent more time playing golf than he ever has in his time as the coach at CU. And as luck would have it, the Buffs advanced to the Pac-12 title game and advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He then turned around and picked up a top-10 recruiting class in the nation.

Tad should play more golf.

But as the rain fell at Colorado National Golf Club, the pristine home of the Buffs golf teams, it just wasn’t in the cards on this particular Monday. However, he had no problem sitting back and chatting about where the Buffs were when he arrived in Boulder, where they’ve gone since he’s been there and where else he wants to see the program go.

If only the conversation was beginning on the first tee box.

“I’d pepper it 250 right down the middle of the fairway,” Boyle says with a smile.

He’s not pretending (the scouting report on Boyle the golfer is that he’s got game). But for this round, we might have to – pretend, that is. Here’s how the round with Tad Boyle went.

Hole 1

Par 4 – 393 yards

Getting hired away from Northern Colorado and coming to Boulder

My fourth year at UNC, we won 25 games and our first year at UNC, we won four games. So, I knew that people were going to take notice of that, especially going from a Division II program that was not even eligible our first year in Division I to play in the postseason. If Devon Beitzel doesn’t get hurt and break his foot in the middle of February, I think we’re an NCAA tournament team that year, but we lost in the (conference) semis to Montana. They always say timing is everything in sports and in life, but after the season, Jeff Bzdelik took the Wake Forest job. If he would have taken it a year before, and we won 16 games, I’m probably not even on CU’s radar, but because we had won 25, (then-CU athletic director) Mike Bohn asked me if I’d be interested in talking about the job.

Hole 2 

Par 5 – 555 yards

On the importance of being a Colorado guy coaching a Colorado team

When I got the job, one question that I was asked at my press conference was, “What are you going to do when an in-state kid or family who asks you why you didn’t stay at Colorado to play college basketball?” And I said, without blinking, “I’m going to tell him not to make the same mistake I made by leaving the state.” The one thing you forget about, growing up in the state of Colorado, is you don’t appreciate it until you leave it. I think a lot of people that grew up in this state, they love Colorado, but there’s always that maybe; it’s the “grass is greener” type deal.

When I left to play college basketball, I realized how much I missed Colorado and all it has to offer. I also saw that how the tradition at Kansas, and the passion of the Kansas fans, is something that’s really special. And I’ve tried to bring as much of that to CU as I can. And we’re not done with that. We’ve made some really good strides since I’ve been here. It’s been 11 years, but the best is yet to come. As the CU Events Center can get packed on a nightly basis, people can feel the tradition starting to build. We still have to get to a Sweet 16. We still have to get to an Elite Eight. I’m hoping we can get to a Final Four before it’s all said and done. That’s the ultimate goal when you wake up in the morning.

Hole 3

Par 4 – 415 yards 

On if he recruits the kind of guys at Colorado that he would have liked to play with at Kansas

It’s hard for me to answer that because when you’re a player, you’re looking at it through a player’s eyes. As I look back when I played at Kansas and Coach (Larry) Brown was bringing in guys like Danny Manning and Cedric Hunter, the bottom line is you want to play with good players and good players make you a better coach or good players make you a better teammate, too. I was a hell of a lot better teammate with Danny Manny on my team than I was without him. You know what I mean? He made everybody else better, and I think that’s the biggest thing –  trying to attract guys that can help make each other better. It’s the old Magic Johnson line. Good players make themselves better; great players make those around them better. And we’ve had a lot of good players in Colorado and we’ve had a handful of great ones like Spencer Dinwiddie, McKinley Wright, who just graduated, Josh Scott, Derek White. They made the guys around them better.

Continue reading story here

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July 12th

… CU in the Arena … 

Projected Pac-12 basketball awards: Eli Parquet the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … Before we plunge into the names to watch in Pac-12 basketball, a few numbers for your consumption:

— Four of the top 20 scorers in the conference last season are back for another year.

— Three of the 15 players named to the all-conference teams last season are returning.

— Four of the top 50 recruits in the country are joining Pac-12 teams next season. (Gonzaga alone signed four of the top 53 prospects.)

Put another way: There’s a paucity of established stars and one-and-done talents.

The Pac-12’s success in 2021-22 depends heavily on role players morphing into impact players and on transfers making instant impacts.

Now, to our projections for postseason awards …

Defensive Player of the Year: Colorado G Eli Parquet. One of the top defenders in the conference last year is back for a run at DPOY. Averaged close to one steal per game and, at 6-foot-3, managed a whopping 23 blocked shots. Can defend multiple positions, including big wings. Also considered: UCLA’s Myles Johnson and Jaime Jaquez and Stanford’s Bryce Wills.

All-Conference – Second Team
F Marcus Bagley, Arizona State
F Evan Battey, Colorado
F Quincy Guerrier, Oregon
G/F Jaime Jaquez, UCLA*
G Tyger Campbell, UCLA*

All-Defense – First Team
C Myles Johnson, UCLA
F Efe Abogidi, Washington State
G/F Jaime Jaquez, UCLA
G Eli Parquet, Colorado
G Bryce Wills, Stanford

All-Freshman – First Team
C Lawson Lovering, Colorado

C Enoch Boakye, Arizona State
F Mouhamed Gueye, Washington State
G/F Peyton Watson, UCLA
G K.J. Simpson, Colorado

All-Newcomer – Third Team
G Mason Faulkner, Colorado (Western Carolina)

G Terrell Brown, Washington (Arizona)
G Jacob Young, Oregon (Rutgers)
G Justin Kier, Arizona (Georgia)
G Jay Heath, Arizona State (Boston College)

Read full story here

Woelk: Chauncey Billups and Jamahal Mosley take different paths to NBA head coaching positions

From CUBuffs.com … Colorado basketball hit center stage nationally again Monday when former Buffaloes standout Jamahl Mosley was officially introduced as the new head coach of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

Paired with the June 28 hiring of former Buffs great Chauncey Billups by the Portland Trail Blazers, Mosley’s hiring puts CU in rarified company — currently, only three college programs can claim two current NBA head coaches.

The other two are Arizona (Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Sacramento’s Luke Walton) and Kentucky (LA Lakers’ Frank Vogel and Detroit’s Dwane Casey).

Both Billups and Mosley were recruited to Colorado and coached by Ricardo Patton at CU. (Joe Harrington was CU’s head coach when Billups signed, but Patton — then an assistant — is generally considered to be the coach responsible for keeping Billups in state).

The two missed playing together by just one season.

Billups, one of the most celebrated players in CU history, played two years at Colorado (1995-97), leading Patton’s Buffs to an NCAA Tournament bid and first-round win over Bobby Knight and Indiana in 1997. He then turned pro and was the third overall draft pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, selected by Boston.

Mosley played at CU from 1997-2001. A starter for most of his career, he is still in the top 30 all-time CU scorers (1,171 points), and his 22 rebounds against Missouri in 2001 are still the most ever in one game by a Buff in the CU Events Center (fourth on Colorado’s all-time single-game list).

“They both were incredibly hard workers from Day One,” Patton said. “If I had one wish, I wish Chauncey would have stayed one more year so he would have had a chance to play with Jamahl. I thought Jamahl had NBA potential when he came in, and I think it would have been great for them both to play together.”

But following their CU careers, the two traveled very different paths for the next two decades before being named NBA head coaches just two weeks apart.

Continue reading story here

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Wilner picks the Pac-12 (still no respect for CU)

From the San Jose Mercury News … If reading the Hotline’s outlook for the upcoming Pac-12 basketball season prompts eyes to roll or blood to boil, keep this in mind: We don’t pick ties, but they’re inevitable.

Last season, for example, there were two teams with six losses in conference play, and three teams with 10 losses.

Two years ago, the regular-season race ended with a two-team tie for third place, a two-team tie for fifth place and a three-team tie for eighth place.

And it will happen again this winter.

  • 1. UCLA
  • 2. Oregon
  • 3. USC
  • 4. Oregon State
  • 5. Washington State
  • 6. Colorado … There’s plenty to like in Boulder after 23-win season and round-of-32 appearance, but not necessarily for the upcoming season. In our view, CU is destined for a transition year while coach Tad Boyle seeks new on-court leadership and direction. So deep was McKinley Wright’s influence that his exit will have triple the impact typically seen when a point guard departs. The remaining pieces, including big man Evan Battey, shooter Jabari Walker and an impressive freshman class, are good enough to prevent a complete backslide.
  • 7. Arizona State
  • 8. Utah
  • 9. Arizona
  • 10. Stanford
  • 11. Washington
  • 12. California

Read full story here

Second former Buff named NBA head coach – Jamahl Mosley to coach Orlando Magic

From ESPN … The Orlando Magic have named Jamahl Mosley the team’s new head coach.

Mosley, a Dallas Mavericks assistant, has agreed to a four-year deal, sources told ESPN.

The Magic are replacing Steve Clifford, who mutually parted with the team last month. Orlando had reached the playoffs in consecutive years before trade deadline deals including All-Star Nikola Vucevic (Chicago) and Evan Fournier (Boston) this season moved them into rebuilding mode.

The Magic’s search process had narrowed to two candidates, Mosley and Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr., who has also emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Washington Wizards’ vacancy, sources said earlier this week.

Mosley, 42, spent the past seven years with the Mavericks under Carlisle, ultimately taking on the associate head coaching role. Mosley also served on the staffs of the Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2014) and Denver Nuggets (2005-2010). Mosley’s offensive philosophy has been shaped under two Hall of Fame-level coaches: Carlisle and George Karl.

Continue reading story here

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July 11th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Sigh – Despite No. 1 Pac-12 Recruiting Class: CU an off-season Pac-12 “Loser”

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12’s offseason wasn’t as successful as its postseason, but that was never a realistic possibility.

It was never going to fare as well against the transfer portal and the NBA Draft as it did against unsuspecting opponents in the NCAA Tournament.

The combined lure of professional contracts and fresh starts and more playing time was far too great to prevent some top talents from leaving the conference.

But clearly, the exodus could have been much worse. On balance, the outflow of talent wasn’t severe enough to derail the collective momentum built during the Pac-12’s scintillating run through March.

With the deadlines for players to transfer (July 1) and remain in the NBA Draft (July 7) having come and gone, the Hotline offers the following assessment of key developments for each team.

Notes:

— We are not listing every arrival and departure.

— If late-breaking draft or transfer news breaks, we will update the relevant sections below.

— Projections for the 2021-22 conference race will be published next week.

Loser: Colorado. First, we should acknowledge the recruiting class, which is No. 1 in the conference and No. 11 nationally and a prime source of optimism for CU. That said, the Buffaloes lost three key rotation players to the portal, D’Shawn Schwartz, Jeriah Horne and Dallas Walton, in addition to NBA-bound McKinley Wright. Essentially, we believe the recruiting class, while deep, doesn’t possess enough instant-impact talent to offset the losses to the draft and transfer portal. In other words, the Buffs are better positioned for the future than for the present.

Read full story here

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July 10th

… CU in the Arena … 

Spencer Dinwiddie sets his price (five years; $125 million)

From CBS Sports … Last month, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie opted out of the final year of his contract in order to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Yet just because Dinwiddie turned down the player option with the Nets doesn’t mean that he isn’t interested in remaining in Brooklyn. During an interview with Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated, Dinwiddie revealed exactly what it will take for him to re-sign with the Nets.

Given that the Nets have his Bird rights and could thus sign him to a five-year deal, as opposed to the max of four years that other teams can offer, Dinwiddie said that a five-year deal in the $125 million range would likely keep him in Brooklyn.

“Now, for all the fans that think because I opted out I have to leave or something like that, no, this is very much in the Nets’ hands, you feel me?” Dinwiddie said. “I think my full max is like five [years], $196 [million] or something like that. And nobody’s sitting here saying I’m going to get five [years], $196 [million] — so before anybody tries to kill me, nobody’s saying that.

“But the Nets have the ability to do something that other people can’t. If they come to the table like that, and they’re being aggressive and are saying, ‘Hey we got five [years], $125 [million] for you,’ I would say there’s a high likelihood that I go back to the Nets, you know what I mean? But if they don’t come to the table like that, and they’re like ‘Oh, we’re going to give you a three for 60,’ well, anybody can do that.”

There’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high if you’re Dinwiddie, but it remains to be seen if the Nets will be willing to cough up that much cash over a five-year period for a player who is coming off an ACL injury. Dinwiddie played in just three games for the Nets last season, and it’s fair to wonder how well he’ll respond to the injury, especially since he has now torn the ACL in both of his knees. Plus, if the Nets were going to bring back Dinwiddie, he would basically be the third-best guard on the team — behind James Harden and Kyrie Irving — and it seems somewhat unlikely that the Nets would want to invest so much money in a guard when they’re already pretty well set at that position.

Continue reading story here

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July 7th

… CU in the Arena … 

Steep learning curve for CU’s freshmen: “Their heads are spinning a little bit right now”

From the Daily Camera … It was a quick transition for KJ Simpson, a sturdy week of work for 7-footer Lawson Lovering, and perhaps a frustrating time for the sidelined Javon Ruffin.

For all five of the rookies the comprise Colorado’s No. 11-ranked men’s basketball recruiting class in the nation, per 247Sports.com, the first set of summer practices offered a blunt reality check. The college game will be faster, more physical, and far more demanding on the cardiovascular system than the game they played just months ago. Or in Simpson’s case, weeks ago.

CU completed the first half of 10 summer practices last week ahead of the program’s exhibition trip through Costa Rica in August. For that highly-touted recruiting class — Lovering, Ruffin, Simpson, Quincy Allen and Julian Hammond — it was the initial taste of a debut college season now only four months away.

“They’re a really energetic, competitive group that wants to learn,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Their heads are spinning a little bit right now. New terminology, new system, new teammates, a different level of basketball. It’s a process. But it’s definitely, relatively to last year’s team, you’re taking a few steps back in terms of getting back to your basics. It’s good for the new guys, but it’s also good for the veterans to kind of re-learn some things and reaffirm why we do what we do.”

Continue reading story here

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July 5th

… CU in the Arena … 

Ceal Barry leading effort to endow the women’s head coaching position

From CUBuffs.com … Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the landmark legislation that essentially gave birth to women’s intercollegiate sports programs across the nation.

Since then, women’s sports have become firmly entrenched in the national landscape, producing a generation’s worth of superstars and storylines.

But even after nearly five decades, women’s college sports have yet to fully escape their reliance on the revenue produced by football and men’s basketball.

Former University of Colorado women’s coach and administrator Ceal Barry believes it is time to change that narrative. Women’s sports must make the move from surviving to thriving — and Barry is determined to get the ball rolling.

Thus, she is starting the process of fully endowing the CU women’s basketball head coaching position with a significant donation, with a goal of reaching $1 million.

“Philanthropy for women’s sports is part of the solution. You never truly have a seat at the table until you become self-supporting,” Barry said. “It’s important that women give and get involved. We need to get past that perception that only our former male athletes are our donor base. We need to demonstrate that there is a potential revenue stream from our former women athletes, our women’s coaches and women donors.”

Barry is no doubt well-suited to speak on the topic. No one has had a bigger impact on women’s sports at CU.

The winningest coach in Buffs history with 427 victories, she took the reins in 1983 and guided the program for 22 years. A four-time Big Eight Coach of the Year, Barry led Colorado to four regular season Big Eight titles, four Big Eight Tournament titles and one Big 12 tourney championship. The Buffs made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in her tenure, reaching the Sweet 16 six times and the Elite Eight three times.

Those numbers led to her induction in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the CU Athletics Hall of Fame.

But Barry’s legacy at CU is far more than numbers. She helped bring women’s sports into the mainstream, making Colorado nationally relevant on an annual basis, and that influence helped CU build competitive programs in other women’s sports.

Continue reading story here

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July 6th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Jabari Walker will use Team USA snub as motivation: “I deserved to make the final cut”

From the Daily Camera … Jabari Walker admitted to the disappointment.

What magnified the gut-punch of missing the final cut for the US U19 World Cup team was Walker’s belief that he had earned a spot on the roster, and that his absence from the ongoing World Cup tournament in Latvia was less about basketball than off-the-court maneuvering.

Walker returned to practice with the Colorado Buffaloes last week after spending a week at Texas Christian University at the tryout camp for the U19 team. The sophomore forward survived the first cut when the tryout pool was whittled from 27 players to 17, but he was left off the final 12-man roster.

“Honestly, it was (disappointing), but I know kind of what went down,” Walker said. “You look at the roster, you kind of see a little bit what happened. I’ll just leave it at that. I proved to myself that I deserved to be there and I deserved to make the final cut, but there was a little bit of something else going on there that wasn’t really the basketball part.”

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle, who served as an assistant on the 2017 U19 team and was an assistant for the 2015 US Pan Am team, didn’t refute Walker’s assessment. His only hope is that Walker, coming off Pac-12 All-Freshman team honors in his first season of college basketball, uses his perceived snub as a source of motivation.

“The biggest thing I told Jabari is those decisions that are made are not always the right ones,” Boyle said. “And he has to use that to his advantage — which is, ‘Hey, why didn’t I make the team? What are the things where I kind of came up short in the tryout process? What can I do to use that as fuel for my fire to prove people wrong?’ “.

Continue reading story here

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July 2nd

… CU in the Arena … 

Conditioning the goal of the first week of summer practices

From the Daily Camera … On Thursday, the Colorado men’s basketball team sprinted to the finish line.

Well, perhaps not quite the finish line, but the Buffaloes used the final practice of their first summer session to compete in an intense and demanding five-on-five scrimmage. With Mason Faulkner (ankle) and freshman Javon Ruffin (knee) sidelined by injuries, in addition to a few other excused absences like Tristan da Silva visiting family in Germany, there were no substitutions for either side during the exhausting scrimmage.

Through the first five practices of the summer, head coach Tad Boyle learned one certainty about his young roster: The Buffs have to get in much better shape before the 2021-22 season begins. Beyond that, Boyle was happy with the spirit of the newly-completed set of practices but stopped short of offering an in-depth analysis of the Buffs’ progress.

“It’s the early stages, so it’s really hard to tell,” Boyle said. “We scrimmaged (Thursday) and got up-and-down a little bit. We played 20 minutes of basketball, so half a game. Our conditioning is not where it needs to be for sure. We’ve got some really talented guys individually offensively. But what we’re trying to put together is obviously working together to get a great shot for our team. And also the defensive end.

“For new players that are here, they don’t quite understand the urgency that you need to play with on defense. It’s kind of a you let me score, I let you score mentality. We’ve got to get out of that. I love our talent level. I love our competitiveness. But we’ve got a long ways to go.”

Continue reading story here

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July 1st 

… CU in the Arena … 

Transfer guard Mason Faulkner out until September after ankle surgery

From the Daily Camera … A couple of Colorado’s newcomers will be spending their summers simply getting healthy.

Following his team’s practice on Wednesday, CU men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle said senior guard Mason Faulkner recently underwent surgery to repair a lingering injury in Faulkner’s right ankle. Earlier this week, Boyle reported freshman guard Javon Ruffin was being held out of summer practices due to a knee issue.

Boyle said he and his staff were aware of the potential issue when Faulkner signed with CU in April as a graduate transfer from Western Carolina.

… “It’s unfortunate he’ll miss the offseason and miss the Costa Rica trip, but he’s at every practice soaking things in mentally. Physically, he’s a strong guy, a mature guy. He’s put a lot of time in the gym over the last four or five years of his career. That stuff should come back hopefully relatively quickly. Having Mason Faulkner at 100 percent is a heck of a lot better than having him at 60 or 70 percent, which is basically where he was operating.”

Continue reading story here

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June 30th

… CU in the Arena … 

Keeshawn Barthelemy looking for improvement: “I’ve really tried to improve on those things. And I think I should be fine”

From the Daily Camera … Heading into a season in which he expects to play a bigger, far more crucial role, Keeshawn Barthelemy decided he wanted a clean slate.

A new season, fresh approach, and the expectation of more meaningful contributions inspired Barthelemy into a dramatic hairstyle change this summer. Gone are the wild locks that added a little cushion atop his 6-foot-2 frame, exchanged for a close-cropped cut that has given Barthelemy the look of a new man as the Colorado men’s basketball team goes through summer practices.

The player hoping to take control of the point guard spot hopes the new look leads to a new-look game as well.

After serving as the backup point guard behind McKinley Wright IV as a redshirt freshman during the 2020-21 season, Barthelemy earlier this week expressed some frustration while reviewing his first season in action with the Buffs. Sure, Barthelemy understood his playing time would be thin behind Wright. Ideally, though, Barthelemy wanted to make a much bigger impact during those scattered opportunities.

“I needed a change from what happened last season, the season I had and stuff,” Barthelemy said. “I think it’s just best for me to start fresh. I didn’t play as well as I would’ve wanted to. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved the time that I got because I didn’t compete defensively and I wasn’t a leader out there as a point guard.

“Coming into this offseason, I’ve really tried to improve on those things. And I think I should be fine.”

Continue reading story here

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June 29th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tad Boyle: “I’m real excited for Chauncey and happy for him”

From the Daily Camera … The showdowns may have occurred in the basketball equivalent of a lifetime ago, but Tad Boyle still harbors the occasional nightmare of watching Damian Lillard tear through his team’s defense.

And, of course, in his decade-plus tenure as the leader of the Colorado men’s basketball team, Boyle has welcomed the opportunity to get to know Buffaloes legend Chauncey Billups.

In Boyle’s humble opinion, Billups coaching Lillard will be a match made in basketball heaven.

On Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers made the hiring of Billups as their next head coach official, reportedly agreeing to a five-year deal with the former Buffs star. One of Billups’ most immediate goals will be to maximize Portland’s potential during the peak career years of Lillard, Portland’s star guard who in college often gave Boyle’s teams fits.

Lillard played at Weber State, and during his first two seasons Boyle was still the head coach at Weber’s Big Sky Conference rival, Northern Colorado. Lillard averaged 15.7 points in 62 games over those two seasons, making Boyle a permanent part of the Dame fan club.

“I’m a big, big Damian Lillard fan,” Boyle said. “I coached against Damian when he was at Weber and I was at Northern Colorado. I think those two together as a coach and player will mesh well. I’m really excited for Chauncey and happy for him.”

Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star and the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals while winning the title with the Detroit Pistons, most recently worked as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers. Until this past March, the Buffs had one just one NCAA Tournament game since Billups led CU to a first-round win against Indiana in the 1997 tournament.

Despite playing just two seasons at CU, Billups still is No. 35 on the Buffs’ all-time scoring list, and his 555 points during his sophomore season of 1996-97 is the 13th-best single-season point total in program history. Picked No. 3 overall by Boston in the 1997 draft, Billups still owns the highest draft slot of any CU player in team history, and he will become the first former Buffs player to serve as an NBA head coach.

Continue reading story here

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June 28th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs to take on Nebraska in October in charity game in Lincoln

Press release from CUBuffs.com … The University of Colorado men’s basketball team will participate in a charity exhibition game at long-time rival Nebraska, set for Sunday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m. MT, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.

Proceeds from the contest will go to three Lincoln-area organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: the TeamMates mentoring program; the YWCA of Lincoln for its Employ402 program and the Nebraska Greats Foundation.

It will mark the first meeting between the programs since March 5, 2011, which was both schools’ final regular-season Big 12 game before the Buffaloes moved to the Pac-12 Conference and the Huskers went to the Big Ten Conference.

“We are excited to bring the Buffs to Lincoln and compete against a familiar foe from our days in both the Big 12 and Big Eight,” said Colorado Coach Tad Boyle. “Coach Hoiberg has his program poised for future success and will be a great test for our young team. More importantly, we are honored to help raise money for various Lincoln charities who have been negatively affected by the recent pandemic. We look forward to the Cornhuskers returning the favor to the Boulder community next year.”

The mission of the TeamMates Mentoring Program is to impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential through mentoring. The program, which was started by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne in 1991, now serves more than 170 school districts across five states.

The YWCA’s Employ402 Program is a job readiness program created to address barriers and provide resources for community members seeking mobility, stability, and ingenuity surrounding employment. The Keys Series explores the topics of financial literacy, overcoming barriers, and strengths development.

The mission of the Nebraska Greats Foundation is to provide medical and financial assistance to in-need former athletes from Nebraska’s 16 four-year Colleges and Universities. The organization was started by Jerry Murtaugh in 2014 is a member of the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands.

“Over the past year, we have sought out ways for our program to make a positive impact in the community, and this charity game against Colorado allows us to directly help those in Lincoln who have been directly affected by COVID-19,” Nebraska Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We appreciate Coach Boyle and his team for coming to Lincoln. I think it will be a matchup our fans will be excited to see and allows both team a chance to gain valuable experience prior to the start of the regular season.”

Nebraska returns four starters (Trey McGowens, Dalano Banton, Lat Mayen and Derrick Walker) and five of its top six scorers from last season, although Banton declared for the NBA Draft and will have until early July to either return to school or stay in the draft.  The Huskers also add a five-member recruiting class which is ranked as a high as 13th nationally by ESPN.

Colorado looks to duplicate the success of the 2020-21 campaign where the Buffaloes went 23-9 and reached the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.  Boyle begins his 12th season at the school, and the Buffaloes have won 20-or-more games each of the past three seasons. The Buffs are led by returning honorable-mention All-Pac 12 selection Even Battey, who averaged 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and Eli Parquet, who started 31 games and was named to the Pac-12 all-defensive team. Colorado also welcomes a recruiting class which is ranked 11th nationally by 247Sports.

Nebraska holds a 77-71 edge in a series which dates back to the 1902-03 season. The teams shared the same conference from 1947-48 to 2010-11. Boyle and Hoiberg met three times in 2010-11, when Hoiberg was at Iowa State, with Colorado winning two of the three meetings.

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June 27th

… CU in the Arena … 

CBS: CU lineup improvement one of the top ten in the nation

From CBS Sports … With the 2021 college basketball cycle all but complete, we are beginning to get a clearer sense of how rosters will look in the season ahead. More than any season in the past, recruiting classes from this cycle are littered with transfers, meaning many schools took a mix of freshmen and players from other schools to fill out their allotment of scholarships.

So what schools are poised to improve the most because of their 2021 recruiting hauls? We’ll go through the list 1-10 here. But this isn’t a simple regurgitation of the team recruiting rankings.

Michigan and Gonzaga landed the No. 1 and No. 2 recruiting classes at 247Sports, respectively. However, both are missing from this list since both were No. 1 seeds in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. While a newcomer such as Chet Holmgren at Gonzaga or Caleb Houstan at Michigan could be one-and-done stars, there is minimal room for improvement after what both programs accomplished last season.

Instead, the teams featured here are those with the best chance to capitalize on the incoming talent to improve their programs moving forward. Perhaps they had rough 2020-21 seasons, or perhaps they are pairing a solid nucleus of returning talent with a good group of newcomers. Either way, these are the 10 teams in position to benefit most from the influx of talent scheduled to arrive on campus this season.

10. Colorado … 

2021 Colorado Commits

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June 26th

… CU in the Arena … 

Former Buff Chauncey Billups to be named coach of the Portland Trail Blazers

From the Daily Camera … Mr. Big Shot is headed to Rip City.

Chauncey Billups on Sunday night was announced as the new head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, replacing Terry Stotts, who mutually parted ways with the club on June 4.

Billups, 44, spent the 2020-21 season as an assistant coach with the Clippers.

“Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ that has won everywhere he has been,” Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a news release. “He is prepared for the challenge of developing the Championship habits and strategic approach we need to achieve the expectations and goals for our franchise.”

Billups, a Denver native, starred at George Washington High School and the University of Colorado before he was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the third overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft. He played 17 seasons in the league and was named the NBA Finals MVP in 2004 after leading Detroit to a championship. He also played for the Raptors, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Knicks and Clippers.

Billups played at Colorado from 195-97. The guard averaged 18.5 points, 5.1 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game over his two seasons. During the 1996-97 season, Billups was named second-team All-American and led the Buffs to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 28 years. The No. 9 seed Buffs upset No. 8 Indiana in the first but lost to North Carolina in the second round.

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June 24th

… CU in the Arena … 

New Buffs on the court for the first time: “There’s new energy in the gym”

From the Daily Camera … There is hitting the ground running. And then there is the whirlwind KJ Simpson has had to endure in recent days.

A week ago, the Colorado men’s basketball recruit was finishing his delayed high school season in Southern California. He arrived in Boulder on Sunday, and soon dove into all of the requisite health and medical examinations.

On Thursday, the Buffs went through the first of 10 summer practices ahead of the team’s exhibition tour later this summer in Costa Rica, which begins Aug. 12. It was the first day Simpson was cleared to participate following his post-arrival tests, and he took his spot amid a CU freshman class ranked as the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation by 247Sports.com.

“It was spirited and the guys had a lot of energy,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Obviously there’s a lot of new faces so there’s new energy in the gym, which is good. Our veteran guys I thought did a good job. (Sophomores) Luke O’Brien and Nique Clifford look like they’re much improved. Evan (Battey) and Eli (Parquet) are pretty steady as veterans, and Keeshawn (Barthelemy) keeps getting better each year. Our veterans did a good job and our new faces, it was good to have them out there.”

Boyle is planning to oversee practices on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week, with the last five of the summer practices planned for the days leading into the Costa Rica trip. Beginning Monday, the workouts will be open to the media, allowing for the first outside glimpse of the Buffs’ practices since the pre-pandemic end of the 2019-20 season.

Continue reading story here

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June 22nd

… CU in the Arena … 

Team Colorado forced to back out of The Basketball Tournament

From the Daily Camera … On Monday, the 64-team bracket for the annual The Basketball Tournament was announced. Noticeably absent was Team Colorado, the squad of Colorado Buffaloes alums that has made the winner-take-all tournament a sort of annual competitive reunion.

Unfortunately for those former Buffs, the trials of the times once again are conspiring against them.

Due to a combination of a couple COVID issues among the expected roster, as well as late-season injuries for a few players competing overseas, Team Colorado general manager and former Buffs player Josh Repine said the decision was made late last week to withdraw from The Basketball Tournament.

In addition to those issues, former CU forward Lucas Siewert, who has been playing professionally in his native Brazil and planned to join Team Colorado this summer, ended up being unable to participate due to travel restrictions.

“There were about four or five that texted me that were either hurt, had some COVID-related issue, or couldn’t even get into the country,” Repine said. “All that mixed together, it was too much.”

Continue reading story here

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June 21st 

... CU in the Arena …

Men’s non-conference schedule finalized (circle Dec. 21st on your calendar)

From CUBuffs.com … Three NCAA Tournament teams and five-star caliber players are set to visit Boulder during the 2021-22 University of Colorado men’s basketball nonconference schedule, head coach Tad Boyle announced on Monday.

Kansas, Tennessee and reigning Big Sky Conference Tournament Champion Eastern Washington headline Colorado’s slate of eight home games during the nonconference schedule.

Colorado’s game against Tennessee, set for Saturday, Dec. 4, follows the Buffaloes’ two early season Pac-12 Conference contests against Stanford (Sunday, Nov. 28) and at UCLA (Wednesday, Dec. 1), beginning a five-game December home stand. Eastern Washington will be up next on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

The Kansas game, scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 21, wraps up the nonconference schedule, serving as a final tune-up for the remaining Pac-12 schedule which will tip-off a little more than a week later.

An intriguing matchup is sandwiched between the three NCAA Tournament teams as Milwaukee, out of the Horizon League, visits Boulder on Friday, Dec. 10. The Panthers will feature McDonald’s All-American Patrick Baldwin, Jr., a 6-10 forward, rated as the No. 4 player nationally in the class of 2021 by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports.

“It’s a terrific nonconference schedule that will prepare us for Pac-12 play,” Boyle said. “It will be a great test for our young team.

“Fans may not think (Milwaukee) is a big game, but they have a future first round draft pick in their program; a different player. In November and December, you’re going to see some good basketball teams and good basketball players (at the Events Center).”

The Buffaloes will host Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday, Dec. 18, leading up to the game with Kansas.

Colorado will open its season with home games against Montana State (Tuesday, Nov. 9), New Mexico (Saturday, Nov. 13) and Maine (Monday, Nov. 15) before embarking on the lone road trip of the nonconference schedule. As previously announced, Colorado will participate in the 2021 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, Nov. 19-22, in St. Thomas. The Buffaloes will have three games at the Paradise Jam, beginning with Southern Illinois on Friday, Nov. 19.

Times and television for all games will be announced later this summer along with the remainder of the Pac-12 schedule.

Monday’s schedule reveal comes on the heels of CU Athletics announcing earlier in the day that it will return to 100 percent capacity for home events in 2021-22.

“The thing that our players are looking forward to the most is seeing fans back in the Events Center,” Boyle said. “Fans are going to be treated to a very exciting team with some veterans and newcomers with a lot of talent.”

Colorado men’s basketball season tickets are on sale now, starting at $240 for reserved bench seating. Renewals are underway for current season ticket holders with a deadline of July 16.

Those looking to purchase online can visit CUBuffs.com/tickets to leave a deposit at this time with a follow up from a member of the CU Athletic Ticket Office sales team. For more information on purchasing season tickets call 303-492-8282.

2021-22 Colorado Men’s Basketball Nonconference & Early Pac-12 Schedule

 

DATEOPPONENTLOCATION
Tuesday, Nov. 9MONTANA STATEBOULDER
Saturday, Nov. 13NEW MEXICOBOULDER
Monday, Nov. 15MAINEBOULDER
Friday, Nov. 19^Southern IllinoisSt. Thomas, U.S. VI
Nov. 20 or 21^Duquesne/NortheasternSt. Thomas, U.S. VI
Monday, Nov. 22^TBASt. Thomas, U.S. VI
Sunday, Nov. 28*STANFORDBOULDER
Wednesday, Dec. 1*at UCLALos Angeles, Calif.
Saturday, Dec. 4TENNESSEEBOULDER
Wednesday, Dec. 8EASTERN WASHINGTONBOULDER
Friday, Dec. 10MILWAUKEEBOULDER
Saturday, Dec. 18CAL STATE BAKERSFIELDBOULDER
Tuesday, Dec. 21KANSASBOULDER

 

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June 19th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU’s 11th-ranked Class gets in first practices: “We’re not going to spend a lot of time putting in plays”

From the Daily Camera … With an overload of new faces ready to battle for spots in the rotation, it might be difficult for the Colorado men’s basketball team to hit the ground running for the 2021-22 season.

Yet there will be plenty of running nonetheless. With an abundance of depth and athleticism on the roster, the Buffaloes expect to be a high-octane operation. That approach begins next week.

On Thursday, the Buffs will hold their first of 10 summer practices allowed ahead of the program’s once-every-four-years international trip in August. Head coach Tad Boyle once again said the Buffs will split those 10 practices into two mini-camps, starting the first set of five practices on Thursday through the following week before going through the next five practices ahead of CU’s exhibition trip to Costa Rica in August.

Simply getting out and playing will be at the top of the summer agenda.

“I think one main thing will be getting them up to speed on our terminology,” Boyle said. “We have to get them involved offensively and defensively. We’re not going to spend a lot of time putting in plays. We want to run on every miss, on steals, and we want to push after every make. We’re not even going to put in zone stuff, any zone offense, because we just want to get them out and play.”

Continue reading story here

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June 18th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tad Boyle $625,000 raise approved by Board of Regents

From the Daily Camera … The COVID-19 pandemic was as big a headache to the Colorado men’s basketball team as any other program out there, yet it also coincided with one of the most successful runs in the Buffaloes’ history.

The Buffs were on the verge of receiving an NCAA Tournament bid when the 2020 tournament was canceled at the start of the pandemic shutdown more than a year ago. CU returned to post its best finish in league play since joining the Pac-12, reaching the conference championship game before routing Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Buffs also have signed a 2021 recruiting class ranked  11th in the nation, per 274Sports.com.

For all that work, head coach Tad Boyle is getting a raise.

On Thursday, CU’s Board of Regents approved new terms for the latest version of Boyle’s perpetual five-year contract, which features an annual base and supplemental salary of $2.425 million. That marks a raise of $625,000 from the financial terms Boyle has worked under the past two years.

While Boyle’s base salary will actually drop from $350,000 to $300,000, he will see a significant increase in several of the supplemental salary categories. That includes “promotion and fundraising” (increasing from $375,000 to $625,000) and “sponsorship support” (increasing from $375,000 to $625,000), in addition to a new supplemental category of “community relations and outreach” that will pay $220,000 annually.

The structure and totals for Boyle’s incentive bonuses remains largely the same, although the bonuses for 15 regular season wins ($30,000) and 17 regular season wins ($20,000) have been eliminated. This past season, Boyle earned $290,000 in incentive bonuses, but that exact same performance next season would net $240,000, with the win-total incentives beginning at 19 regular season wins.

Read full story here

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June 16th

… CU in the Arena … 

ESPN Bracketology: CU a No. 11 seed

From Joe Lunardi at ESPN … After the most unusual NCAA tournament in history, a return to the version of March Madness fans have known and loved is back on the schedule for 2021-22. A standard selection process, a multiple-city event, and the return of fans, bands and cheerleaders are among the elements college basketball worshippers will welcome back in March. ESPN will have you covered up through Selection Sunday with the most recent men’s NCAA tournament bracket projections, including the teams on the bubble and those best positioned to cut down the nets in New Orleans on April 4.

No. 1 seeds … Gonzaga … Michigan … UCLA … Kansas

Also from the Pac-12 …

— No. 6 seed – USC

— No. 7 seed – Oregon

No. 11 seed – Colorado – one of the last four byes

— No. 11 seed – Arizona – one of the last four byes

— First Four Out … Washington State

See full bracket here

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June 15th

… CU in the Arena … 

McKinley Wright one of seven Pac-12 players invited to NBA Combine

From  CUBuffs.com … Former University of Colorado standout McKinley Wright IV is one of 69 players expected to attend the Microsoft Surface NBA Draft Combine 2021, which will be held June 21-27 at Wintrust Arena and the Marriott Marquis in Chicago.

The Microsoft Surface NBA Draft Combine 2021 is an important step in the draft process for NBA prospects, leading up to NBA Draft 2021 presented by State Farm on July 29.   Players will conduct interviews with NBA teams and participate in five-on-five games, shooting and strength and agility drills June 22-25.  ESPN2 (June 24) and ESPNU (June 25) will provide coverage of the five-on-five games from 1-5 p.m. MT each day.

A three-time All-Pac-12 Conference first team selection, Wright is Colorado’s all-time leader in assists (683) and the first player in Pac-12 history with 1,800 points, 600 assists and 600 rebounds. Wright averaged 15.2 points and 5.7 assists as a senior in 2020-21, earning USBWA and NABC All-District honors.

Wright led the Pac-12 assists and ranked third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), sixth in free throw percentage (.844) and 13th in scoring as a senior. His 182 total assists in 2020-21 ranked fourth in the nation and are the second-most in a single season at Colorado.

Invitees to 2021 NBA Draft Combine

Max Abmas, Oral Roberts
Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
Marcus Bagley, Arizona State
Scottie Barnes, Florida State
Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
Brandon Boston Jr., Kentucky
James Bouknight, UConn
Greg Brown III, Texas
Jared Butler, Baylor
Julian Champagnie, St. John’s
Justin Champagnie, Pittsburgh
Josh Christopher, Arizona State
Sharife Cooper, Auburn
Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
David Duke Jr., Providence
Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine
Luke Garza, Iowa
RaiQuan Gray, Florida State
Jalen Green, NBA G League Ignite
Quentin Grimes, Houston
Sam Hauser, Virginia
Aaron Henry, Michigan State
Ariel Hukporti, Nevezis (Lithuania)
Matthew Hurt, Duke
Nah’Shon Hyland, VCU
Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky
David Johnson, Louisville
Jalen Johnson, Duke
Keon Johnson, Tennessee
Herbert Jones, Alabama
Kai Jones, Texas
Johnny Juzang, UCLA
Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Jonathan Kuminga, NBA G League Ignite
Scottie Lewis, Florida
Isaiah Livers, Michigan
Makur Makur, Howard
Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall
Tre Mann, Florida
Matthew Mayer, Baylor
Miles McBride, West Virginia
Davion Mitchell, Baylor
Evan Mobley, USC
Isaiah Mobley, USC
Moses Moody, Arkansas
Trey Murphy III, Virginia
Daishen Nix, NBA G League Unite
John Petty Jr., Alabama
Yves Pons, Tennessee
Jason Preston, Ohio
Joshua Primo, Alabama
Roko Prkacin, Cibona (Croatia
Neemias Queta, Utah State
Austin Reaves, Oklahoma
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas Tech
Day-Ron Sharpe, North Carolina
Jericho Sims, Texas
Jaden Springer, Tennessee
D.J. Steward, Duke
Cameron Thomas, LSU
J.T. Thor, Auburn
Isaiah Todd, NBA G League Unite
Trendon Watford, LSU
Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
Ziaire Williams, Stanford
McKinley Wright IV, Colorado
Moses Wright, Georgia Tech
Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton

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June 14th

… CU in the Arena … 

Pac-12 makes changes to women’s basketball schedule

From the Daily Camera … The Pac-12 Conference on announced Monday that the women’s basketball conference schedule will increase to 20 games, with 10 home games and 10 road games for each team, starting with the 2022-23 season.

The changes mirrors that of the men’s basketball season schedule, which also made a change to 20 regular season conference games starting with the 2020-21 season.

For the 2021-22 season, the Pac-12 will play one last 18-game regular season schedule, rounding out the 10-year rotation.

“We are constantly evaluating ways to elevate Pac-12 women’s basketball and strengthen the league’s stature,” said Pac-12 senior associate commissioner Teresa Gould in a statement. “With the depth of talent in the Conference, adding two quality games to the league schedule will help Pac-12 programs prepare for the rigors of postseason play and support the sustained success of the Conference in the NCAA Tournament. A 20-game Conference schedule will also provide fans of Pac-12 women’s basketball additional opportunities to enjoy meaningful matchups both in person and on television.”

The Pac-12 tournament to conclude the women’s season also saw an announced change, as Saturday will now be an open date — meaning semifinal winners will get a rest day before a Sunday championship game.

Continue reading story here

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June 12th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Despite stellar incoming class, Nique Clifford expects to be in the rotation this fall

From the Daily Camera …  Nique Clifford made the short journey from Colorado Springs to Boulder to begin his collegiate basketball career well aware his opportunity wasn’t likely to arrive during his freshman year.

Still, going from an all-state player at The Vanguard School to a little-used bench role isn’t an easy adjustment for any young player. For Clifford, his first year with the Colorado Buffaloes proved to be an extended learning experience, from getting accustomed to that spot on the bench on game days to maximizing his practice time competing against now-departed point guard McKinley Wright IV.

“It was not what I expected. I expected to come in and play right away,” Clifford said. “But I made the most of what happened last season. We had a bunch of seniors who were experienced and I got to learn a lot from them each and every day.

“I started to embrace that role. Of course it’s no fun not playing. Nobody doesn’t want to play. But I just learned to embrace that role and be a good teammate and just learn from these guys, because I knew my time would come.”

That time is now for Clifford, who is expected to vie for a rotation spot in a crowded backcourt competition set to also include returning starter Eli Parquet, last year’s backup point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy, Western Carolina transfer Mason Faulkner, and three incoming freshmen — Julian Hammond, Javon Ruffin, and KJ Simpson. That’s in addition to two players — Clifford’s classmate, Luke O’Brien, as well as freshman Quincy Allen — projected to compete for D’Shawn Schwartz’s vacated role as a big wing/small forward.

Continue reading story here

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June 10th

… CU in the Arena … 

Class of ’22 commit Joe Hurlburt: “(CU) just seems like the place for me” 

From the Daily Camera … Joe Hurlburt was barely past his freshman year of high school when his play at a prep camp made an impression on the Colorado coaching staff.

That staff, in turn, made an impression on Hurlburt when Buffaloes assistant coach Mike Rohn journeyed to the town of Enderlin in southeast North Dakota (population: 886) to watch Hurlburt play. As Hurlburt grew into his current 6-foot-10 frame and his skills expanded, attention turned toward Enderlin from far more sources than head coach Tad Boyle’s staff in Boulder.

In this case, though, that first impression became a lasting one. In April, while the CU men’s basketball program still was putting the finishing touches on a nationally-ranked 2021 recruiting class, Hurlburt became the first prospect to pledge a verbal commitment to the Buffs for the 2022 class.

… While Hurlburt remains a year away from setting foot on campus, he already is eager to join a young core set to debut in 2021-22 with a freshman group ranked as the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation by 247Sports. Assuming returning senior starters Evan Battey and Eli Parquet do not use their extra year of eligibility, the Buffs still will have at least two spots to fill around Hurlburt in the 2022 class.

“I think it’s going to be really fun just having a chance to compete and hopefully make NCAA Tournaments and go far,” Hurlburt said. “Competing for Pac-12 titles and stuff like that, that’s definitely the goal right now. It’s really nice with the young guys we have to get it all put together. I’m definitely working on my body for the physicality and the pace of the Pac-12. It’s going to be a big difference compared to what I’m used to.”

Continue reading story here

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June 9th

… CU in the Arena … 

The Athletic Pac-12 Power Rankings: CU in at No. 4

From The Athletic … Is this the Pac-12’s moment?

Let’s be real: The past decade has not always been kind to the conference. Larry Scott’s arrival as commissioner 11 years ago was meant to presage a more innovative, forward-thinking era out West, but when Scott officially hangs it up June 30 (after pulling down roughly $50 million in salary during his time at the Pac-12, while also earning criticism for moving the league office into expensive San Francisco; questionable opulence was a prominent theme of the latter half of his tenure) the Pac-12 will have had zero national champions in either football or men’s basketball in his tenure. Just one Pac-12 hoops team — Oregon in 2017 — reached the Final Four from 2010 to 2020. Meanwhile, the league’s basketball product has struggled more broadly. Just two seasons ago, the Pac-12 earned just three NCAA Tournament bids for the second straight season (the highest being a No. 9 seed) while finishing seventh in KenPom.com’s average adjusted efficiency margin conference rankings — behind even the American. There have been better years, too, sure, but the league’s best KenPom finish in Scott’s time was fourth. It has only occasionally punched pound-for-pound with the leagues it ostensibly claims to rival.

Until March. Remember March? Yeah. That was awesome.

In one fell swoop, an undeniably underrated Pac-12 thoroughly owned the 2021 NCAA Tournament, cementing the intra-competitive quality of its own imbalanced regular season in the process. By the time UCLA played out its remarkable Final Four run — and Oregon, USC and Oregon State had finished their own sojourns deep into the bracket — the league had risen to third in the KenPom rankings. In just a few short weeks, it had thoroughly convinced the rest of a previously skeptical hoops world.

No surprise, then, that this offseason carries a dash of added excitement. The next step is to build on last season’s success, to see whether this league as a whole can go from a sort of defiant “ha, how do you like us now, sure showed YOU” to just being plain old good for an entire men’s college basketball season. It’s probably (OK, definitely) still a bit too early to make any definitive judgments about most of these teams and thus about the league in composite — but what we can do, as part of this week’s conference predictions series, is look at every Pac-12 team’s roster and, for fun, see where we think it stands at the moment.

4. Colorado

Possible starters: Evan Battey, Eli Parquet, Jabari Walker, Mason Faulkner (transfer), Lawson Lovering (freshman)
Bench: Quincy Allen (freshman), K.J. Simpson (freshman), Tristan Da Silva, Keeshawn Barthelemy, Javon Ruffin (freshman), Julian Hammond (freshman), Nique Clifford, Luke O’Brien

Under normal circumstances, you would lean toward giving Tad Boyle more time. Losing star senior guard McKinley Wright, and all of his production and leadership, would be hard for any program, but it’s especially so for Colorado, which even in its successful incarnation under Boyle does not tend to rebuild en masse at a moment’s notice. The 2020-21 team, which finished eighth in adjusted efficiency, was the culmination of years of gradual building. When Wright arrived in 2017-18, the Buffaloes finished 114th. This is unquestionably the start of a new cycle, and the natural assumption here is that Boyle will need time to properly go again.

Except, well, maybe not. Look at this incoming recruiting class. The Buffaloes have the 11th-ranked class in the country, per 247 Sports, and the highest rated in the league. Lovering is a 7-foot top-60 prospect who makes theoretical sense playing next to undersized but skilled forward Evan Battey on the block. Meanwhile, Colorado also added four-star guard Quincy Allen and, after the Sean Miller firing, top-100 Arizona commit K.J. Simpson. Meanwhile, West Carolina’s Mason Faulkner is the likely Wright fill-in. Faulkner did a lot of the same things Wright did well a year ago — particularly playing out of ball screens, getting to the middle and making plays for teammates — albeit less efficiently and at a lower competitive level. Sheer profile-wise, though, the addition makes perfect sense.

Colorado almost certainly won’t be as fluid next season, and this refreshed roster might not reach its full potential for another year or two. But the newcomers have a chance of letting Boyle run this thing back faster than Buffs fans have become accustomed to.

Continue reading story here (subscription required) …

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June 8th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Former Buff Chauncey Billups the favorite to become the next coach of the Portland Trail Blazers

From NBC Sports … While Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey told the media Monday he has yet to reach out to any coaching candidates to replace Terry Stotts, the betting markets aren’t so sure.

Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups (-200) is listed as the favorite to replace Stotts as the Trail Blazers head coach by PointsBet, the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports.

Billups leading the race aligns with the belief around the league that the Portland job is his to lose, between him appearing on both the leaked candidate list from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Damian Lillard’s preferred list that he told Jason Quick of The Athletic on the record.

Tuesday morning, John Hollinger of The Athletic wrote Billups “is the likely choice” per league sources.

As a 17-year NBA veteran, Billups is a guy who’s respected for his leadership skills and played a role in reviving the Detroit Pistons, which included a championship and seven straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances; helping the Denver Nuggets make the Western Conference finals in 2009 after a 24-year absence; helped the New York Knicks make the playoffs in 2011 for the first time in six years.

Now, he’s on the sidelines for the Western Conference favorite Clippers.

Read full story here

—–

June 5th

… CU in the Arena … 

Summer conditioning begins for Boyle’s Buffs

From the Daily Camera … The 2021-22 college basketball season doesn’t begin for another five months. But this week marked the first gathering of next season’s edition of the Colorado Buffaloes.

Head coach Tad Boyle’s club reconvened in Boulder following the Memorial Day weekend, and with the exception of incoming freshman KJ Simpson, the entire squad is on campus going through the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program.

It marks the first workouts for a recruiting class ranked 11th in the nation by 247Sports.com, a group that includes Simpson, Quincy Allen, Lawson Lovering, Javon Ruffin, and Cherry Creek’s Julian Hammond, who on Friday was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Colorado. Allen was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the District of Columbia, and class of 2022 commit Joe Hurlburt won the honor for North Dakota.

This week also marked the first time on campus for Mason Faulkner, the graduate transfer from Western Carolina.

Simpson’s high school team, Chaminade, still is competing in a delayed 2020-21 season in California and was set to play in the state semifinals on Friday night. Last week, Chaminade knocked off Villa Park, the high school of Simpson’s new CU teammate, Evan Battey.

Continue reading story here

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June 4th

… CU in the Arena … 

Three CU signees named Gatorade Players of the Year

Three soon-to-be Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball players were honored with Gatorade Player of the Year honors for their respective states and districts Friday. Class of 2021 signees Julian Hammond III and Quincy Allen won for Colorado and Washington, D.C., respectively, while 2022 commit Joe Hurlburt won for his home state of North Dakota.

From the Daily Camera … Julian Hammond III led Cherry Creek to a perfect 24-0 record with two 5A state championships as the Bruins’ starting quarterback. On the hardwood, the 6-2 guard helped the Bruins to the 5A state semifinals. No matter how you slice it, Hammond just wins.

On Friday, Gatorade announced that Hammond is getting the nod for 2020-21 Colorado Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

The senior guard averaged 22.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this past season, concluding his prep hoops career with 1,439 points.

Hammond will join last year’s Colorado Player of the Year, Dominique Clifford, at the University of Colorado in the fall. Though Hammond could’ve likely played football at the next level, he’ll be on Tad Boyle’s talented Buffs roster .

“Julian displays major versatility and leadership,” said Paul Biancardi, ESPN national recruiting director, in a news release. “His length can aid him on the defensive end of the court both on and away from the ball. He scores with opportunity and is a productive winning player.”

He is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, which will be announced in June.

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June 3rd

… CU in the Arena … 

CU’s Jabari Walker to attend USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team training camp

From CUBuffs.com … University of Colorado’s Jabari Walker has been invited to participate in the 2021 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team training camp, June 20-22, on the campus of TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.

Walker, a 6-foot, 8-inch sophomore-to-be forward from Inglewood, Calif., is one of 27 athletes who have accepted invitations to attend the training camp. The athletes, age 19 years old or younger, will be vying for a spot on the 12-member team that will represent the USA at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men.

Walker was a 2020-21 Pac-12 All-Freshman Team pick averaging 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds helping the Buffaloes to a 23-9 record and a spot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He ranked third on the team in rebounding while shooting nearly 53 percent from the field.

Scheduled to join Walker at the training camp are: Devin Askew (Texas/Sacramento, Calif.); Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Hamilton H.S./Sussex, Wis.); Kendall Brown (Sunrise Christian Academy /Cottage Grove, Minn.); Kennedy Chandler (Sunrise Christian Academy/Memphis, Tenn.); Jonathan Davis (Wisconsin/La Crosse, Wis.); Derek Fountain (Mississippi State/Holly Springs, Miss.); Caleb Furst (Blackhawk Christian School/Fort Wayne, Ind.); Jordan Hall (Texas A&M/Wildwood, N.J.); Chet Holmgren (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.); Harrison Ingram (St. Mark’s School/Dallas, Texas); Jaden Ivey (Purdue /South Bend, Ind.); Dishon Jackson (Washington State/Vallejo, Calif.); Meechie Johnson (Ohio State/Cleveland, Ohio); Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton/St. Louis, Mo.); Trey Kaufman-Renn (Silver Creek H.S. /Sellersburg, Ind.); Zed Key (Ohio State/Bay Shore, N.Y.); Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech/Port Arthur, Texas); Langston Love (Steele H.S. /Cibolo, Texas); Mike Miles (TCU/Lancaster, Texas); Adam Miller (Louisiana State/Chicago, Ill.); Trey Patterson (Villanova /Somerset, N.J.); Hunter Sallis (Millard North H.S./Omaha, Neb.); Deivon Smith (Georgia Tech/Loganville, Ga.); Dalen Terry (Arizona/Tempe, Ariz.); Peyton Watson (Long Beach Poly Tech H.S./Long Beach, Calif.); and Jaylin Williams (Arkansas/Fort Smith, Ark.).

“Aside from the Olympics and World Cups, the FIBA U19 World Cup is the most challenging competition on the international calendar, and it will take a team of dedicated, selfless individuals to go to Latvia and try to win gold,” said Matt Painter, chair of the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee and Purdue University head coach. “The committee feels we have a strong group of players coming into camp in June in hopes of securing a spot on the U19 team, and I’m looking forward to watching them fight to be a part of this USA Basketball team.”

Continue reading story here

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May 28th

… CU in the Arena … 

ESPN: CU the Pac-12 program that doesn’t get the credit it deserves for constructing a roster

From ESPN … Name one Pac-12 program that doesn’t get the credit it deserves for constructing a roster …

Borzello: Colorado is the program mentioned most by coaches in the league for recruiting above its weight class. Tad Boyle has consistently been able to find under-the-radar guys, whether it’s Spencer Dinwiddie or Derrick White or McKinley Wright. NCAA tournament star Jabari Walker didn’t even have an ESPN recruiting profile.

It’s not as if Boyle is competing for Pac-12 titles every single season, but the Buffaloes went to four of five NCAA tournaments early in his tenure, would have made it in 2020 and earned a 5-seed this past season. And perhaps that success is translating onto the recruiting trail: Colorado is bringing in the No. 9-ranked recruiting class in the country next fall.

Medcalf: For all the reasons Jeff mentioned, I think it’s Colorado. The Buffaloes are essentially the Pac-12’s Purdue. I think the talent Tad Boyle has identified and developed have been the key to his success. He grabbed George King in Texas. He’s had success with Spencer Dinwiddie and others from the West Coast. McKinley Wright is from Minnesota. That’s what you have to do when you’re up against powerhouse recruiters such as Oregon, Arizona and UCLA in the Pac-12. You have to get creative. And that’s not easy to achieve. Just ask Washington State or Oregon State or Cal or the other programs that have tried to compete for talent within that conference.

Lunardi: I am optimistic about what Craig Smith can achieve at Utah, but he’s yet to coach a Pac-12 game. So add me to the Colorado chorus. Tad Boyle has proven to be outstanding at both building a roster and developing his players long-term. Hopefully that formula can continue for the Buffaloes in this era of the transfer portal and its wandering eyes.

Gasaway: USC’s had a pretty good run here. Step one in that process was to find someone with two sons who are at least 6-foot-10 and then hire their father as an assistant coach.

Since Eric Mobley joined the staff in March of 2018, the Trojans have improved over each of their last three seasons. Isaiah and, especially, Evan Mobley had a lot to do with that, of course, but they had help. Nick Rakocevic, Onyeka Okongwu and Tahj Eaddy all played a role in this resurgence as well. Andy Enfield got USC all the way to the Elite Eight in March, giving the program its best showing in the NCAA tournament since 2001. If not for the even more spectacular tournament run of a certain crosstown rival, the Trojans’ heroics may have attracted their fair share of notice.

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May 25th

… CU in the Arena … 

Pac-12 sets early season conference schedule: Buffs to face Final Four UCLA on December 1st

Press Release from CUBuffs.com … The University of Colorado will host Stanford and play at UCLA to open the 2021-22 Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball season as the league announced the early season matchups of its 20-game schedule Tuesday.

Colorado and Stanford will meet in the first overall conference game for the league circuit on Sunday, November 28th, at the CU Events Center. The Buffaloes will then travel to 2021 NCAA Final Four participant UCLA on Wednesday, December 1st. Tip-times, television and the remaining 18 games of the Pac-12 schedule will be announced at a later date.

Along with the early-season matchups, the Pac-12 announced each team’s home-away opponents for 2021-22 and the new 10-year schedule rotation.

With the 20-game conference schedule, now in its second season, the Buffaloes play home-and-home with nine opponents and single games with two. For the 2021-22 season, Colorado will have a single home date with USC and one road game at California.

The new 10-year rotation will begin for the 2021-22 season and extend through 2030-31, featuring a pair of mirrored five-year segments (2021-22 to 2025-26, 2026-27 to 2030-31) with venues flipped for the early conference games and single-play opponents.

A prior 10-year rotation was implemented for the 2011-12 season, the league’s first after expansion to 12 members, and completed during the recent 2020-21 campaign.

Colorado finished the 2020-21 season at 23-9 overall and third in the Pac-12 Conference at 14-6. The Buffaloes were the runner up at the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Colorado was No. 9 in the final NCAA NET rankings, No. 22 in the final Associated Press Poll and No. 23 in the final Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll, powered by USA TODAY Sports.

Pac-12 Men’s Basketball 2021-22 Early Conference Games
Sun., Nov. 28, 2021 – Stanford at Colorado
Wed., Dec. 1, 2021 – Colorado at UCLA; Utah at USC; Washington State at Arizona State
Thurs., Dec. 2, 2021 – Oregon State at California; Washington at Arizona
Sat., Dec. 4, 2021 – USC at Washington State
Sun., Dec. 5, 2021 – Arizona at Oregon State; Arizona State at Oregon; California at Utah; UCLA at Washington
Sun., Dec. 12, 2021 – Oregon at Stanford

Pac-12 Men’s Basketball 2021-22 Conference Home/Road Matchups

COLORADO
Home: ARIZ, ASU, ORE, OSU, STAN, UCLA, UTAH, WASH, WSU, USC
Road: ARIZ, ASU, ORE, OSU, STAN, UCLA, UTAH, WASH, WSU, CAL

ARIZONA
Home: ASU, CAL, COLO, OSU, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, ORE
Road: ASU, CAL, COLO, OSU, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU

ARIZONA STATE
Home: ARIZ, CAL, COLO, ORE, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WSU, OSU
Road: ARIZ, CAL, COLO, ORE, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WSU, WASH

CALIFORNIA
Home: ARIZ, ASU, OSU, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU, COLO
Road: ARIZ, ASU, OSU, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU, ORE

OREGON
Home: ASU, COLO, OSU, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU, CAL
Road: ASU, COLO, OSU, STAN, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU, ARIZ

OREGON STATE
Home: ARIZ, CAL, COLO, ORE, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU, STAN
Road: ARIZ, CAL, COLO, ORE, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASH, WSU, ASU

STANFORD
Home: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, UCLA, USC, WASH, WSU, UTAH
Road: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, UCLA, USC, WASH, WSU, OSU

UCLA
Home: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, STAN, USC, WASH, WSU
Road: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, STAN, USC, WASH, UTAH

USC
Home: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, ORE, OSU, STAN, UCLA, UTAH, WSU, WASH
Road: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, ORE, OSU, STAN, UCLA, UTAH, WSU, COLO

UTAH
Home: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, USC, WASH, WSU, UCLA
Road: ARIZ, ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, USC, WASH, WSU, STAN

WASHINGTON
Home: ARIZ, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, STAN, UCLA, UTAH, WSU, ASU
Road: ARIZ, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, STAN, UCLA, UTAH, WSU, USC

WASHINGTON STATE
Home: ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, STAN, USC, UTAH, WASH, ARIZ
Road: ASU, CAL, COLO, ORE, OSU, STAN, USC, UTAH, WASH, UCLA

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May 24th

… CU in the Arena … 

Donnie Boyce named to CU 2021 Hall of Fame Class

Bio from CUBuffs.com … Donnie Boyce was afforded some kind of distinguished honor every year of his Colorado career: a two-time, first-team All-Big Eight Conference performer at guard as a sophomore and junior (1992-93, 1993-94; second-team as a senior, honorable mention as a freshman), a USBWA first-team All-District 7 selection as a senior (second-team as a junior) and earned Big Eight All-Freshman team honors in ’91-92 … A candidate for the prestigious John Wooden Award as a senior … A member of the Kansas City Star’s Players’ Team as a junior and senior (first-team; voted on by the players) … Most Valuable Player in the 1993-94 Mile High Classic … Participated in the trials for the 1994 Goodwill Games … Finished his career as CU’s all-time leading scorer with 1,995 points, which still ranks third all-time; he was set reach the 2,000-point plateau but suffered a broken leg in the first half of CU’s 71-53 loss to Oklahoma in the first round of the 1995 Big Eight postseason tournament (he thus missed the Buffs’ first round NIT game at New Mexico) … He also exited as CU’s all-time leader in games started (107), field goals attempted (1,648), free throws made (480) and attempted (721) … The second player in school history to lead the team in scoring for all four years of his career (joining Emmett Lewis, 1976-79; Richard Roby later did it from 2005-08) … He averaged 14.9 points per game as a freshman, 19.1 as a sophomore, 22.4 as a junior (the third-highest mark for a single-season at CU) and 18.5 as a senior; he averaged 18.8 points per game over his career …  Scored a career-high 46 points in the ’94 regular season finale at Oklahoma State (second-most ever in a single game by a Buff) and had five career 30-plus point performances (he tied the school record for most points in a half with 31 in the first half in that OSU game) … Also led the team in assists his sophomore through senior seasons and twice led the team in steals … He led the Big Eight in scoring in conference games as a junior with an impressive 26.8 points per game … He was a second round pick (42nd overall) by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1995 National Basketball Association draft … The leg injury delayed his pro debut until March of the following season; he had a short career in the NBA, appearing in 30 total games for Atlanta over the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons (started two games and scored 79 total points) … He signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs but never appeared in a game … He would go on to play overseas, in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and the United States Basketball League (USBL) before retiring as a professional in 2006 … Entered the coaching profession at his high school alma mater, Proviso East, where he has been the school’s head coach since 2011, sans the 2015-16 season when he was an assistant for the Texas Legends in the NBA’s Developmental League … … His first team at Proviso went 32-1 (ironically the school’s record when he was a senior in ’90-91), losing in the state final, with his second team taking third place; he has a 204-78 record in nine seasons with two of his players in the NBA (Jevon Carter, Phoenix and Sterling Brown, Houston) … He was born September 2, 1973 in Chicago and has an adult son, Andre.

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May 20th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU’s Recruiting Class impresses even Jon Wilner

From San Jose Mercury NewsCommentary on Pac-12 developments on and off the field, and court …

Rising: Colorado basketball.

The Buffaloes currently have the top-rated 2021 recruiting class in the conference, which isn’t something we necessarily would have expected.

Especially because so many key pieces were secured before the just-completed season.

Good fortune certainly has played a role in forming the class.

It’s not often that the state of Wyoming produces one of the top-10 big men in the country, but 7-footer Lawson Lovering happens to be from Cheyenne and wanted to play 90 minutes from home.

And it so happens that four-star guard K.J. Simpson’s original plans were derailed when Arizona fired Sean Miller, prompting Simpson to shift his allegiance to CU.

But fortune and circumstance are part of recruiting for every program every year, and the Buffaloes have taken full advantage.

What the class doesn’t possess, at least based on the recruiting ratings, is an uber-talent — a top-25 player nationally who has one-and-done potential.

Perhaps an elite player will emerge from the group set to join CU for next season. Perhaps the overall quality of the class is such that the absence of a transcendent talent is irrelevant.

Either way, the program has undeniable momentum.

Read full story here

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May 19th

… CU in the Arena … 

ESPN recruiting rankings: CU moves into the Top Ten 

From ESPN … A mini-commitment spree over the weekend saw five-star guard Nolan Hickman commit to Gonzaga, elite scorer Jaden Hardy make his G League plans official and top-50 prospect Arthur Kaluma pledge to Creighton, essentially closing the book on the 2021 class. Only one ESPN 100 prospect, former Auburn commit Trey Alexander, remains available.

As a result, it felt like the perfect time to update our top 25 recruiting classes — with rankings just about set in stone at this point in the cycle.

Michigan hangs on at No. 1 — barely: It wasn’t quite a wire-to-wire run at the top for Juwan Howard and the Wolverines, but once five-star prospects Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate picked Michigan back in the fall, they vaulted to the top of the rankings and never relinquished their No. 1 spot. While Houstan and Diabate could push for starting spots right away, top-50 guards Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin will also provide an immediate impact on the perimeter.

Gonzaga lands most five-stars: Gonzaga closed the gap to No. 1 after Hickman committed, but the depth of Michigan’s class kept the Wolverines at the top. Mark Few’s program still landed more five-star prospects than anyone else in the country — a remarkable achievement for a program in the West Coast Conference. In fact, Gonzaga’s dominance gave the WCC the second-most five-star prospects of any conference in the country. No. 1 prospect Chet Holmgren will be one of the biggest headliners in college basketball next season, while Hickman and Hunter Sallis could start immediately.

From the Pac-12 …

9. Colorado Buffaloes

Previous ranking: 17 

Tad Boyle had six scholarship seniors in the program this past season, and while some can still return thanks to the new NCAA waiver, the Buffaloes needed something of a reload in the 2021 class — so he went out and landed five players and a potential sixth. Top billing goes to an ESPN 100 trio: 7-foot center Lawson Lovering, small forward Quincy Allen and former Arizona signee K.J. Simpson. Lovering has really improved over the course of his high school career, boosting his mobility and expanding his offensive game, while Allen is a talented wing scorer who can make shots. Simpson moved quickly after reopening his recruitment; he’s a guard capable of playing both backcourt positions. Guards Javon Ruffin and Julian Hammond III should provide depth, and Drew Carter is a dual-sport star who is expected to make a bigger impact on the court.

17. UCLA Bruins

Previous ranking: 15 

Mick Cronin had some unfortunate luck in his first full recruiting class in Westwood, seeing five-star point guard Daishen Nix choose the G League route rather than enroll at UCLA as originally expected. But Cronin has bounced back in the 2021 class, landing the ESPN 100 wing duo of Peyton Watson (No. 12) and Will McClendon (No. 67). Watson, a five-star prospect, has continued to boost his stock over the past year and has risen up the rankings as quickly as anyone in the country. Meanwhile, McClendon has a very good frame and is effective getting to the rim. After a shocking run to the Final Four, Cronin could have a national championship contender on his hands next season if everyone returns to Westwood. The Bruins also went out and reinforced the frontcourt with Rutgers grad transfer Myles Johnson.

18. Stanford Cardinal

Previous ranking: 16 

It began with an early pledge from Isa Silva, a 6-foot-3 point guard and one of the most creative passers in the class. In September, the Cardinal won a recruiting battle for Harrison Ingram, one of the most versatile forwards in the country, who should follow in the footsteps of both Williams and KZ Okpala as the latest big, playmaking wing in Jerod Haase’s sytem. Stanford rounded out the class by securing their backcourt with a pledge from Jarvis Moss, an under-the-radar, high-upside big guard out of North Carolina.

Read full story here

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May 18th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU will face ASU guard Remy Martin after all (as he has transferred to Kansas)

… The Jayhawks are scheduled to come to the CU Events Center this December … 

From CBS Sports … There have been more than 1,500 Division I college basketball players in the transfer portal this offseason. The overwhelming majority of them are irrelevant to the sport. But there are some who project as real difference-makers, and there’s an argument to be made that none deserve that label more than reigning Pac-12 scoring champ Remy Martin.

He’s now a Kansas Jayhawk.

The 6-foot point guard, who is coming off of back-to-back seasons in which he averaged 19.1 points per game for Arizona State, committed to Bill Self’s program on Monday night. So as long as he eventually withdraws from the NBA Draft, which is the operating assumption, he’s now set to join a blueblood program that’s expected to return four of the top five scorers from a team that beat Baylor, the eventual national champion, and finished second in the Big 12. As a result, I’ve moved Kansas up to No. 3 in Version 11.0 of the 2021-22 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1.

Gonzaga remains No. 1.

The Zags have won at least 31 games in five consecutive seasons, played in two of the past four national title games, and finished first or second at KenPom in four of the past five years — and it’s possible the best is yet to come considering the roster Mark Few has in place. The WCC power should bring back Andrew Nembhard and Drew Timme, the latter of whom will likely be the Preseason National Player of the Year. That experienced core will be joined by the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2021 (Chet Holmgren) and two other consensus top-30 freshmen (Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman), meaning this should be the most-talented roster in program history — one good enough to win Gonzaga’s first national championship.

Read full Top 25 list here (no CU) …

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May 17th

… CU in the Arena … 

Paradise Jam schedule set: CU to face Southern Illinois in first round

Paradise Jam Bracket

From CUBuffs.com … The bracket for the 2021 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam has been set with the University of Colorado men’s basketball team scheduled to face Southern Illinois in a first round game on Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. MT.

The eight-team event will be held at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, Nov. 19-22. All Paradise Jam games will be streamed on either the ESPN3 or ESPN+ platforms.

The Buffaloes will play either Northeastern or Duquesne in their second game. First round winners receive a day off before meeting in the semifinals on Sunday, Nov. 21. Losers of first round games will play a consolation semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 20.

Colorado will play a third game on Monday, Nov. 22 against one of four teams on the opposite side of the bracket: Bradley, Colorado State, Brown or Creighton. The Paradise Jam championship game is set for 6 p.m. MT.

Colorado won the 2017 Paradise Jam which was relocated to Lynchburg, Va., that season due to damage to the Virgin Islands from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Fan travel packages will be sold at a later date, with more information coming soon as tournament officials navigate potential COVID-19 safety protocols. For more information leading up to the tournament, check out the Paradise Jam on social media, and our website paradisejam.com.

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May 12th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs to open season with an exhibition tour of Costa Rica

… Tad Boyle: “It’s absolutely crucial for next year’s team to get to know each other and have a chance to bond” … 

From the Daily Camera … Tristan da Silva currently is the only Colorado men’s basketball player on campus. Yet the Buffaloes’ collective summer plans quickly are coming into focus.

Head coach Tad Boyle told BuffZone his team’s international exhibition tour tentatively will be held in Costa Rica. Boyle previously said Canada was an option but, barring unforeseen setbacks, the new-look Buffs will head to Central America in August.

Foreign exhibition tours are allowed once every four years in NCAA basketball, and this year’s trip will be a timely one for Boyle’s program. The rotation likely will see a sweeping overhaul beyond returning starters Evan Battey and Eli Parquet, as the Buffs welcome five new freshmen in addition to Western Carolina graduate transfer Mason Faulkner.

The practices teams get to hold ahead of such trips could prove critical for a Buffs team that has said farewell to 62.1 percent of its scoring production, including three of the top four scorers in McKinley Wright IV, Jeriah Horne, and D’Shawn Schwartz.

Continue reading story here

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May 8th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU’s Top Ten Recruiting Class – Over a Year in the Making

From the Daily Camera … It’s not often a program can replace a senior class featuring three 1,000-point scorers — McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz, and Tyler Bey, whose senior year scholarship ultimately still was used by another 1,000-point senior in graduate transfer Jeriah Horne — with a recruiting class expected to surpass those departing achievements. Yet that’s exactly what Boyle and his staff have managed with the Buffs’ incoming 2021 class.

Lovering (No. 61) and Allen (78) are top-100 recruits in the nation, according to 247Sports.com. So is KJ Simpson (87), the final piece of the class added last week after Simpson was released from his letter of intent at Arizona following the firing of Sean Miller. Rounding out the class are a pair of talented, three-star combo guards in 6-foot-5 Javon Ruffin, the son of former Cherry Creek star and NBA veteran Michael Ruffin, and current Cherry Creek two-sport star Julian Hammond.

Collectively, the Buffs’ 2021 recruiting class ended this week ranked at the top of the heap in the Pac-12 and No. 8 in the nation, two spots ahead of national champion Baylor. For a program like CU — featuring sustained success under Boyle, yet still off the beaten recruiting trail when compared to college basketball’s perennial blue bloods — expanding the recruiting horizons has provided an unexpected boost to Boyle’s foundational approach of developing young talent over multiple seasons.

“We just came up with the idea of, let’s use three to four visits per year on juniors, and let’s swing for the fences,” Boyle said. “A lot of schools right now, they’re looking at filling next year’s team. Well, next year’s team is pretty well set for us. So we can spend time on (2022) and even the following year. In the fall or even during the season, we can try to get juniors on campus and you’re kind of working a year ahead. And by working a year ahead, you might be able to get a guy like Quincy Allen interested in Colorado. Whereas if you wait until he’s a senior and you try to get involved with Quincy Allen, he might already be too far down the line in his recruitment where he doesn’t want to take a trip here.

“But as a junior it’s, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ That was kind of the idea. We’re not going to have 10 guys visit as juniors. It’s going to be three or four guys, and you’ve got to really vet them to make sure they’re really interested.”

Read full story here

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May 4th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Evan Battey: “I’ve come to realize – I’m the senior leader of this team”

From the Daily Camera … Ever so slowly, Evan Battey is getting accustomed to his new reality.

Still, the lack of familiar faces around the Colorado basketball facilities will take a little getting used to for the Buffaloes’ big man.

Battey has endured a world of ups and downs since he arrived at CU as part of a recruiting quintet that hoped to eventually turn into the Buffs’ version of the Fab Five.

Laz Nikolic, a talented and versatile guard out of Serbia, opted to return home after just one season. Tyler Bey became a second-round pick in the NBA Draft after three seasons at CU. Now the other two pieces of that class, McKinley Wright IV and D’Shawn Schwartz, are gone as well, with Wright signing recently with the management company Octagon Basketball with an eye on the NBA Draft and Schwartz opting to spend his bonus year of eligibility at George Mason.

That leaves only Battey, who redshirted during his true freshman year and has begun preparation for his senior season as the last man standing from a recruiting class whose status as the best in head coach Tad Boyle’s 11-season tenure should be challenged by the group arriving this summer.

“I’m not going to lie — it was tough the first couple days,” Battey said. “Just kind of looking around, seeing the faces and seeing my guys not there. That was a little tough for me. As time has gone on I’ve come to realize, and come back to Earth, that I’m the senior leader of this team. I’m in the shoes that McKinley was in last year. I’m trying to accept that and being more comfortable with change.

“I’ve never been good at handling change. I don’t think anyone is, honestly. But it’s a part of life.”

Continue reading story here

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May 3rd

… CU in the Arena … 

Team Colorado being reassembled for run at The Basketball Tournament

From the Daily Camera … The organizers of the Team Colorado alumni basketball squad planned to get younger for The Basketball Tournament a year ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.

With the athletics world slowly attempting to get back to normal, that youth movement finally is on the way for Team Colorado.

Team organizer Josh Repine, a former Buffaloes walk-on who has been working as a special projects assistant in the office of CU athletic director Rick George while pursuing his master’s degree, is busy assembling Team Colorado’s roster for the 2021 The Basketball Tournament, the annual $1 million winner-take-all competition that has become a summer staple for the Buffs’ men’s basketball alums.

“The roster is definitely a lot of younger guys,” Repine said. “I know I say that every year, but this year it’s actually younger guys. We’re still in the process of talking to guys. We have to make sure with COVID their (pro) teams are OK with it.”

Repine said a number of more recent CU hoops graduates have expressed interest in joining the squad this summer, including Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, George King, Xavier Talton, and Shane Gatling. The roster has not yet been finalized, but the alumni team is definitely set to have a new leader.

Continue reading story here

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April 29th

… CU in the Arena … 

Season Awards presented – CU Assist Award renamed for McKinley Wright

Press release from CUBuffs.com … University of Colorado men’s basketball head coach Tad Boyle announced the team’s 2020-21 season awards here Thursday night at the Buffaloes end of season celebration .

McKinley Wright IV received the Chauncey Billups Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player. The Chauncey Billups MVP Award is one of five voted on by Colorado men’s basketball student-athletes. Eli Parquet won the Best Defender Award and shared the Most Improved Award with Tristan da SilvaEvan Battey repeated as the Most Inspirational Award winner as did Alexander Strating with the Tebo Family P.A.S.S. Award.

In addition, two annual statistical champion awards were recognized. Jeriah Horne won the Stephane Pelle Rebounding Award while Wright earned the newly renamed McKinley Wright IV Assist Award.

Wright is the Chauncey Billups Award recipient for the fourth-straight year, becoming the first to achieve that feat. Wright led the Buffaloes at 15.2 points, 5.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game. A three-time All-Pac-12 Conference selection, Wright is the only player in league history with 1,800 points, 600 assists and 600 rebounds.

Wright won the annual assist award for the fourth time. Formerly the Jay Humphries Award, the honor has been officially renamed after Wright, since becoming the program’s all-time leader in assists with 683. He shattered Humphries previous record of 562 that had stood for 37 years. Wright also established Colorado career records for double-figure assist games and points-assists double-doubles with 10.

Wright’s 182 total assists led the Pac-12 and were the fourth most in NCAA Division I this season. That total is also second on Colorado’s single-season list. Wright ends his career with four of the top nine single-season assist totals in team history.

Parquet landed a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. He led the Buffaloes in blocked shots with 23 and was second in steals with 26 while drawing the assignment of guarding the opposition’s best perimeter player night after night. He owned the team season high in both categories with four steals at Washington on Jan. 20 and four blocks at Washington State on Jan. 23. During conference games, Parquet ranked 12th in steals (1.2 spg) and 13th in blocks (0.8 bpg) on the Pac-12 leaderboard.

In addition to his defensive excellence, Parquet’s made considerable improvement in his all-around game. He doubled his scoring and rebounding output from the previous season, averaging 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Parquet shot 48 percent overall from the field including a 42 percent clip from 3-point range – nearly a 10 percent increase in both categories.

Da Silva averaged 2.7 points while shooting 53 percent in just over nine minutes per game as a first-year Buffalo, but displayed his progression during the second half of the season. Over the final 14 games, da Silva averaged 3.9 points and shot 62 percent while delivering some key minutes to the Buffaloes’ rotation.

Da Silva scored a career-high 15 points, hitting 6 of 6 from the field in the home win over Oregon State – a team season-best for shots made without a miss. In all he made 10 in a row over a three-game period. Da Silva played double-figure minutes in nine of the final 14 contests.

Horne earned the Stephane Pelle Rebounding Award after leading the Buffaloes with 187. His 5.8 rebounds per game average ranked 12th overall in the Pac-12 while his 4.7 defensive boards per game ranked sixth on the league charts. Horne led the Buffaloes in rebounding 14 times and had four games of double-figure rebounds – both team season-highs.

Battey was voted as the team’s Most Inspirational Player for the third time. Colorado’s emotional and energetic leader, Battey earned honorable mention to the All-Pac-12 team as a junior averaging 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He shot just under 50 percent from the field and 83 percent from the line while leading the Buffaloes in free throws made (104) and attempted (126).

Battey has continued to make a mark off the court as well serving on the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Player Development Coalition as well as the Pac-12’s Mental Health Task Force. He will enter his senior season as Colorado’s active leader in points and rebounds.

Strating repeated as the Tebo Family P.A.S.S. Award selection, in its fourth year overall. Named in honor of Stephen Tebo, a long-time supporter of the Colorado basketball program, the award was created to recognize the player, or players, that best exemplified the virtues of Perseverance, Attitude, Selflessness and Success. Strating is scheduled to graduate in May with dual degrees in Mathematics and Economics.

Colorado finished the 2020-21 season at 23-9 overall and third in the Pac-12 Conference at 14-6. The Buffaloes were the runner up at the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Colorado was No. 9 in the final NCAA NET rankings, No. 22 in the final Associated Press Poll and No. 23 in the final USA TODAY/Coaches Poll.

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April 28th

… CU in the Arena … 

Rich get richer! CU adds four-star point guard KJ Simpson to the Class of 2021

Simpson’s tweet … I’ve had countless blessings upon me and I’m grateful to be where I’m at. I owe everything to my parents for supporting me throughout this whole process, without them I wouldn’t be here. Love y’all… and with that being said I’m fully committed to the University of Colorado

From the Daily Camera … Head coach Tad Boyle would have been content taking the open 2021-22 scholarship at his disposal into the next recruiting cycle, barring a situation too enticing to pass up.

Kenneth “KJ” Simpson Jr. certainly fits that bill.

On Wednesday, the Boyle and the Buffs completed their already-impressive 2021 recruiting class by getting a commitment from Simpson, a 6-foot-2 guard who previously had signed with Arizona but was released from that commitment following the departure of former Wildcats head coach Sean Miller.

Simpson is the latest gem for a CU recruiting class that already was ranked as the top group in the Pac-12 Conference, and 14th overall in the nation, by 247Sports.com. That national ranking is certain to go up once Simpson’s commitment is updated into the equation. Simpson is the third four-star recruit in CU’s 2021 class, alongside Wyoming 7-footer Lawson Lovering and Washington DC-area wing Quincy Allen.

The final two pieces of the Buffs’ latest recruiting class, Javon Ruffin and Cherry Creek multi-sport star Julian Hammond, are ranked as three-star recruits by 247Sports.com.

With Arizona in the midst of an NCAA investigation stemming from the nearly four-year old FBI recruiting corruption probe, Simpson was released from his letter of intent with the Wildcats once Miller was fired following 12 seasons in Tucson. Colorado was in the mix during the initial recruitment of Simpson, who is from West Hills, Calif., and played at Chaminade High School.

Simpson received his NLI release from Arizona early last week and soon thereafter participated in a Zoom meeting with CU’s staff.

CU’s Recruiting Class of 2021 is now:

4-star PG KJ Simpson
4-star F Quincy Allen
4-star C Lawson Lovering
3-star G Javon Ruffin
3-star G Julian Hammond

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April 27th

… CU in the Arena …

CU men just outside first 2022 Bracketology (CU women a No. 10 seed)

From Joe Lunardi at ESPN … After the most unusual NCAA tournament in history, a return to the version of March Madness fans have known and loved is back on the schedule for 2021-22. A standard selection process, a multiple-city event, and the return of fans, bands and cheerleaders are among the elements college basketball worshippers will welcome back in March. ESPN will have you covered up through Selection Sunday with the most recent men’s NCAA tournament bracket projections, including the teams on the bubble and those best positioned to cut down the nets in New Orleans on April 4.

If you liked the last NCAA tournament, just wait. The epic Final Four game between Gonzaga and UCLA could happen again. If this first bracket for the 2021-22 season were to play out exactly as projected, the Bulldogs and Bruins would meet for the national championship on April 4, 2022. Wow. Joining the Zags and UCLA as No. 1 seeds are Kansas and Alabama, with Villanova, Michigan and Purdue right behind them in the chase for the top line. We will, of course, be monitoring all of the offseason player movement and update these brackets at least one each month throughout the spring and summer.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • UCLA – No. 1 seed
  • USC – No. 7 seed
  • Oregon – No. 8 seed
  • Arizona – No. 9 seed
  • Colorado – First Four Out
  • Stanford – Next Four Out

As for the women … ESPN’s Bracketology

From the Pac-12 … 

  • Stanford – No. 1 seed
  • Oregon – No. 3 seed
  • Oregon State – No. 4 seed
  • UCLA – No. 5 seed
  • Arizona – No. 8 seed
  • Washington State – No. 10 seed
  • Colorado – No. 10 seed (Last Four In)
  • USC – First Four Out
  • Arizona State – Next Four Out

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April 26th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU’s Recruiting Class in the Top 20 nationally (up to No. 17 at ESPN; up to No. 14 at 247 Sports)

RelatedCU Class of 2021 ranked No. 14 by 247 Sports

From ESPN … Chet Holmgren’s commitment to Gonzaga on Monday meant one of the strangest recruiting cycles in college basketball history is one step closer to finishing. There hasn’t been in-person recruiting, campus visits, in-home meetings or coaches scouting players in gyms in more than a year. The 2021 class has survived, however, and for the most part, the recruiting class rankings don’t look too different from previous years.

From the Pac-12 …

15. UCLA Bruins

Previous ranking: 7 

Mick Cronin had some unfortunate luck in his first full recruiting class in Westwood, seeing five-star point guard Daishen Nix choose the G League route rather than enroll at UCLA as originally expected. But Cronin has bounced back in the 2021 class, landing the ESPN 100 wing duo of Peyton Watson (No. 12) and Will McClendon (No. 67). Watson, a five-star prospect, has continued to boost his stock over the past year and has risen up the rankings as quickly as anyone in the country. Meanwhile, McClendon has a very good frame and is effective getting to the rim. After a shocking run to the Final Four, Cronin could have a national championship contender on his hands next season if everyone returns to Westwood. The Bruins also went out and reinforced the frontcourt with Rutgers grad transfer Myles Johnson.

16. Stanford Cardinal

Previous ranking: 22 

It began with an early pledge from Isa Silva, a 6-foot-3 point guard and one of the most creative passers in the class. In September, the Cardinal won a recruiting battle for Harrison Ingram, one of the most versatile forwards in the country, who should follow in the footsteps of both Williams and KZ Okpala as the latest big, playmaking wing in Jerod Haase’s sytem. Stanford rounded out the class by securing their backcourt with a pledge from Jarvis Moss, an under-the-radar, high-upside big guard out of North Carolina.

17. Colorado Buffaloes

Previous ranking: 21 

Tad Boyle had six scholarship seniors in the program this past season, and while some can still return thanks to the new NCAA waiver, Tad Boyle and the Buffaloes needed something of a reload in the 2021 class — and so he went out and landed four players, with a potential fifth. Top billing goes to the ESPN 100 pair of 7-foot center Lawson Lovering and small forward Quincy Allen. Lovering has really improved over the course of his high school career, boosting his mobility and expanding his offensive game, while Allen is a talented wing scorer who can make shots. Guards Javon Ruffin and Julian Hammond III should provide depth, and Drew Carter is a dual-sport star who is expected to make a bigger impact on the court.

Dropped out: Oregon (2), Louisville (11), UNLV (14), Memphis (19), USC (20), Purdue (24), North Carolina (25)   (ESPN 100 forward Johnathan Lawson is also still on the board; his decommitment from Oregon is the reason for the Ducks’ drop in the rankings) … 

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April 24th

… CU in the Arena … 

Jabari Walker: “The biggest thing that I’m going to work on is really staying healthy”

From the Daily Camera … He often was explosive, yet also was frequently forced into cameo appearances due to foul trouble.

Yet when Jabari Walker analyzes his rookie season with the Colorado men’s basketball team, it’s not those frustrating but very typical freshman inconsistencies that spring to mind. It’s the stint Walker was forced to remain on the sideline that stands out. With more minutes and a more prominent role looming in Walker’s future, he realizes it will be critical for the Buffaloes for him to show up every night.

Coming off a Pac-12 All-Freshman Team season marred by a midseason foot injury that cost Walker six games in February, the 6-foot-8 forward is focused on putting in the work that will lead to his name being a constant presence in the rotation each and every night.

“I think overall it was a successful freshman year. The work I did last summer I think paid off and I was ready for the season,” Walker said. “The biggest thing that I’m going to work on is really staying healthy. If I’m going to be playing a significant role, then I’m going to have to be healthy for those games. I can’t be missing huge amounts of games due to injuries.

“Staying healthy. Keeping my body strong. Staying in shape. If I’m going to be playing more minutes, I’m going to have to be on the court more. I want to stay in shape and work on some skill stuff, add little layers to my game since there’s going to be more opportunities.”

Continue reading story here

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April 20th

… CU in the Arena … 

Has CU Basketball peaked? (“Is this all there is?”)

From the San Jose Mercury News … After an unprecedented regular season and an epic postseason for the Pac-12, we’re left to wonder: What’s next?

Was the jaw-dropping, cash-minting NCAA Tournament performance a mere outlier?

Was it the launch point for a multi-year run atop the sport?

Welcome to the first installment of a multi-week Hotline series looking at the immediate future of Pac-12 basketball.

We don’t dare venture beyond the next two or three seasons — not with the sport on the brink of massive change on numerous fronts:

— Immediate eligibility for transfers, including intra-conference transfers

— Compensation for athletics through the use of their Name, Image and Likeness

— New media rights deals for the conference

In this installment, we’ll examine the trajectory for each program. Essentially, it’s our guide to fan enthusiasm levels.

For framing purposes, each team has been placed into one of five categories.

Can’t wait for next season: Excitement is surging, and wholly justified
OK, I’m paying attention: Program on the ascent, at least for now
Is this all there is?: Ceiling reached until proven otherwise
I want to care, but …: No tangible reason for optimism
Look out, belooooow: Abandon hope, all ye who care

Colorado
Category: Is this all there is?
Comment: Our outlook for the Buffaloes might come as a surprise following a 23-win season in which CU reached the second round of the NCAAs. But it’s worth wondering if ’21 was the top end of CU’s potential, a one-time rise created by the stellar play of McKinley Wright, equally stellar management of the pandemic and an ideal first-round matchup (against Georgetown). In other words: There were too many years of mediocrity — of 10-8 conference records and NIT bids — to ignore. We’re not convinced. Tad Boyle’s a quality coach, but CU’s a tough gig.

Continue reading story here

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April 18th

… CU in the Arena … 

Maddox Daniels decides to call it a career: “I’m just ready to move on to this next chapter in my life”

From the Daily Camera … D’Shawn Schwartz will attempt to replicate some of his Colorado late-game magic at George Mason. Dallas Walton will man the post for Wake Forest, while Jeriah Horne is returning to the Tulsa program that gave the Buffaloes their first graduate transfer a year ago.

For Maddox Daniels, the immediate future will be much different.

After a two-year run with the Buffs that included a solid all-around season off the bench in 2020-21, Daniels has opted to end his playing career despite an opportunity to play an additional season thanks to the NCAA’s eligibility relief granted from the 2020-21 pandemic season. While many of his former CU classmates take advantage of that extra season, Daniels will embark on his career goal of becoming a sort of life coach focused on helping people improve their emotional, physical and even spiritual well-being.

“My mindset going into the season was win as many games as possible. Pac-12 championship, NCAA Tournament, and go pro. That was my goals,” Daniels said. “But as the season progressed and I continued to explore other things in my off time when we weren’t practicing and stuff like that. Just other passions of mine, as far as helping people with their health and other things that are fulfilling for me from a lifestyle standpoint.

“Towards the end of the season, I kind of knew but I was focused on basketball and trying to stay in the moment. Once the season ended I kind of just knew it was time. I’m just ready to move on to this next chapter in my life.”

Continue reading story here

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April 17th

… CU in the Arena … 

Mason Faulkner: “I’m excited and ready to get to work”

From the Daily Camera … Mason Faulkner grew up in Kentucky. He began his collegiate career in his home state, played his lone NCAA Tournament game in Indiana, and by his own admission has rarely strayed west of the Mississippi River.

That is all about to change.

“I’ve never really been left of Kentucky on the states map,” Faulkner said. “It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, but I’m excited and ready to get to work.”

The latest addition to the Colorado men’s basketball team actually has played two games west of the Mississippi — once as a true freshman with Northern Kentucky during the 2016-17 season, and again the following season when Northern Kentucky visited Texas A&M. Faulkner, who made it official with CU on Friday as a graduate transfer from Western Carolina, may have made a future-altering impression in that 2016-17 game.

Faulkner’s westward journey across the Mississippi River early in the 2016-17 season occurred when his Northern Kentucky squad visited Southeast Missouri State, which isn’t much further than a wild air ball away from the river’s western banks. Faulkner came off the bench to contribute four points, seven rebounds, and four assists as Northern Kentucky thumped a SEMSU squad coached by current CU assistant Rick Ray.

Continue reading story here

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April 16th

… CU in the Arena … 

McKinley Wright’s replacement? CU picks up a commitment from 6’1″ guard Mason Faulkner from Western Kentucky

From CUSportsNation.com … Faulkner, a 6-foot-1 player from Glasgow, Kentucky, played the last two seasons at Western Kentucky. He began his collegiate career at Northern Kentucky, where he played the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.

After sitting out the 2018-2019 season, per NCAA transfer rules, he hit the court with the Catamounts the next year, averaging a team-high 17.7 points per game.

That season, Faulkner scored in the double digits in 27 of his 31 games played, averaging an impressive 6.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game in the process.

Western Carolina went 11-16 last season within the Southern Conference.

Despite a forgettable season, Faulkner was again impressive on an individual note, averaging 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

Tweet from RecruitsZone … Western Carolina transfer Mason Faulkner tells me that he will transfer to Colorado, he tells me. Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Florida, NC State, and more were recruiting him prior to his commitment.

Faulkner will join the Buffaloes as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility remaining. The scouting report on Faulkner is that he can put pressure on the defense by using and manipulating ball screens to create offense for himself and others.

Some YouTube highlights from last season …

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April 15th 

… CU in the Arena … 

USC basketball assistant accepts bribes – Trojans get a slap on the wrist

From the NCAA.com … A former Southern California men’s basketball associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he accepted a $4,100 bribe from a business management company to influence student-athletes, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

The conduct at issue in this case was related to a broader scheme that involved money and influence at the intersection of college and professional basketball. The scheme resulted in the arrest and prosecution of multiple individuals — including college basketball coaches — on conspiracy and bribery charges, and it led to significant NCAA reforms.

This case originated Sept. 26, 2017, when FBI agents arrested the men’s basketball associate head coach in connection with an indictment and federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The complaint alleged that the associate head coach accepted cash bribes from a professional sports agent in exchange for influencing student-athletes to retain the services of the agent’s management company when the student-athletes entered the NBA.

As part of his plea deal for federal proceedings, the former associate head coach acknowledged that he had accepted a bribe during a July 2017 meeting with financial advisors and business managers in exchange for directing basketball players to retain their services.

Government recordings from that meeting and a second meeting in August 2017 — which were evidence in federal court — revealed the associate head coach had touted his ability to connect the company with current or prospective student-athletes, noting that he had heavy influence over players’ decisions.

… The committee classified the case as Level I-mitigated for the school and Level I-standard for the former associate head coach. The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget.
  • A reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by a total of two during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of men’s basketball official visits to 20 during the 2018-19/2019-20 rolling two-year period (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction in the number of men’s basketball recruiting person days by 20 during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A three-year show-cause order for the former associate head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

Continue reading story here

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April 14th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU planning an international exhibition trip in August

From the Daily Camera … Barring complications, of which certainly there could be many between April and August, the Colorado men’s basketball team finally will get a welcome reprieve from quarantine life.

Not only are the Buffaloes planning to roam off campus, but if all goes well the Buffs are expecting to get out of the country on a business trip.

CU head coach Tad Boyle confirmed to BuffZone his program is expecting to take an exhibition tour abroad in August. Boyle said the Buffs are planning to travel to either Costa Rica or Canada for four exhibition games.

The NCAA allows basketball programs to take international exhibition trip every four years, but the Buffs’ eligibility for an international trip this summer was in doubt due to coronavirus restrictions. Yet Boyle said the Buffs are proceeding as if they will have a competitive August.

Boyle said he hopes to have the destination and itinerary set by June 1.

“We’re planning on it,” Boyle said. “We’re down to the two possible locations. A lot of it will depend on where are with COVID and all the travel restrictions. There’s all kinds of things that need to happen between now and August that hopefully will happen. But we’re planning on it and moving forward with it.”

Two weeks ago, athletic director Rick George said COVID-19 vaccinations would not be required of CU athletes but would be encouraged. Asked if an international trip will mean his team and traveling party will have to be vaccinated, Boyle said he wasn’t certain.

Continue reading story here

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April 7th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU non-conference schedule (Kansas & Tennessee at home) already taking shape

From the Daily Camera … As the page turns toward the 2021-22 season for the Colorado men’s basketball team, head coach Tad Boyle and his staff already are piecing together next season’s schedule.

It could turn out to be one of the more entertaining non-conference schedules in recent memory.

Assuming the 2021-22 season marks a return to college basketball normalcy, the Buffs will play a 31-game regular-season schedule, with 11 non-conference games in addition to the second season of the Pac-12 Conference’s 20-game slate.

The Buffs already have at least five of those non-conference dates settled. Most prominently will be the home date with Kansas as the finale of a home-and-home agreement between the schools. CU visited the Jayhawks early in the 2019-20 season, but the schools agreed to postpone this past season’s visit to CU by Kansas after schedules were shortened to 27 games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CU also will host Tennessee, an NCAA Tournament team that finished 13th in the final NET rankings. The Buffs and Volunteers entered into a three-game agreement on the fly last season, with the Buffs suffering a 56-47 loss in Knoxville on Dec. 8. Tennessee is set to visit the CU Events Center next season, with the teams scheduled to meet again in Nashville during the 2022-23 season.

For the second time in five seasons, the Buffs are scheduled to play at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands (CU won the tournament in 2017, though it was moved to Liberty University after extensive hurricane damage in the Virgin Islands). The Buffs are guaranteed three games against a field that also includes Colorado State, Creighton, Bradley, Brown, Duquesne, Northeastern, and Southern Illinois.

Continue reading story here

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April 6th

... CU in the Arena …

CU finishes as a ranked team in the final USA Today/Coaches’ poll

… The 2020-21 season marks CU’s highest-ever finish in the USA Today poll (the only other season in which the Buffs finished ranked was at the end of the 1996-97 season – when the Buffs also finished with a win in the tournament – with the Buffs finished 25th in the poll) … CU did finished ranked in the UPI poll (the forerunner to the USA Today poll) four times, most recently in 1968-69 … 

From USA Today … The Ferris Mowers Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll, powered by USA TODAY Sports, is conducted weekly throughout the regular season using a panel of head coaches at Division I schools. The panel is chosen in consultation with the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The voters represent each of the 32 Division I conferences that receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Each coach submits a Top 25 with a first-place vote worth 25 points, second place 24, and so on down to one point for 25th.
RankTeamRecordPTS1stPrevChgHi/Lo
1Baylor28-280032321/3
2Gonzaga31-176801-11/2
3Houston28-47140633/18
4Michigan23-5655042/NR
5Alabama26-7623055/NR
6Arkansas25-759901046/NR
7UCLA22-105900NR337/NR
8Illinois24-752702-62/24
9Southern California25-8467023149/NR
10Florida State18-745101449/NR
11Villanova18-740901763/17
12Loyola-Chicago26-5407016412/NR
13Iowa22-940408-53/16
14Creighton22-934001955/19
15Ohio St.21-1030307-84/NR
16Kansas21-9295011-54/NR
17Oregon22-7280025815/NR
18West Virginia19-10277013-55/18
19Oklahoma State21-9250012-712/NR
20Oregon St.20-132290NR20/NR
21Texas19-815109-124/22
22Texas Tech18-11148021-18/22
23Colorado23-9136022-122/NR
24Virginia18-7131015-94/24
25Syracuse18-101120NR25/NR
San Diego St. 63; Oral Roberts 57; Purdue 54; Oklahoma 48; Wisconsin 27; Virginia Tech 16; Brigham Young 12; Drake 9; Winthrop 8; Florida 8; Maryland 7; Connecticut 6; Rutgers 5; Louisiana State 5; Clemson 5; Memphis 2; Tennessee 1; Georgia Tech 1.
The Ferris Mowers Board of Coaches is made up of 32 head coaches at Division I institutions. All are members of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The board for the 2020-21 season: Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; Glenn Braica, St. Francis (N.Y.); Scott Drew, Baylor; Matt Driscoll, North Florida; Baker Dunleavy, Quinnipiac; John Gallagher, Hartford; Michael Huger, Bowling Green; Ron Hunter, Tulane; George Ivory, Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa; Chris Jans, New Mexico State; Rob Jeter, Western Illinois; James Jones, Yale; Greg Kampe, Oakland; Shantay Legans, Eastern Washington; Grant McCasland, North Texas; Mike McConathy, Northwestern State; Robert McCullum, Florida A&M; Greg McDermott, Creighton; Matt McMahon, Murray State; Wes Miller, UNC-Greensboro; Dan Monson, Long Beach State; Chris Mooney, Richmond; Nate Oats, Alabama; T.J. Otzelberger, UNLV; Matt Painter, Purdue; Brett Reed, Lehigh; Tubby Smith, High Point; Zach Spiker, Drexel; Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State; Darrell Walker, Arkansas-Little Rock

CBS and ESPN Way-Too-Early Top 25’s – UCLA a Final Four Favorite

From ESPN … After a college basketball season unlike any we’ve ever seen, we’re about to enter a college basketball offseason unlike any we’ve ever seen. In addition to the usual NBA draft decisions, the transfer portal is filling up at an unprecedented rate, and every player in the country has been granted another year of eligibility, if they so choose. Throw in a likely one-time transfer waiver and rosters today will look drastically different three months from now.

But that isn’t enough to stop the Way-Too-Early Top 25!

Some ground rules before moving forward. For the most part, we’re using ESPN’s NBA draft rankings as a guideline. If a player is ranked inside the top 60, we’re projecting him to leave. There are some exceptions. As for the extra year of eligibility, we’re still projecting the vast majority of seniors to leave; again, with a couple of exceptions. These rankings will shift and change throughout the offseason, but here’s our first guess at the 2021-22 landscape.

Hurry up and dive in — there are only about 220 days until the 2021 Champions Classic.

No. 2 … UCLA … A bang-bang charge call or 40-footer shy of potentially playing for the national championship, I’m banking on UCLA’s March momentum carrying over to next season. That expectation hinges heavily on what Johnny Juzang decides to do, however. March’s breakout star raised his stock as much as any player in college basketball over the past three weeks and could head to the NBA. But if Juzang comes back, Mick Cronin should have back every notable player from the Final Four team. Jaime Jaquez established himself as a go-to scorer and Tyger Campbell is the perfect point guard for Cronin. The Bruins should also get a boost from the potential healthy return of Chris Smith and the addition of five-star wing Peyton Watson. The question will be whether UCLA is more like the team that won five games in 12 days to get to the Final Four or the team that lost four in a row to finish 17-9 before Selection Sunday.

No. 16 … Arizona … A mostly forgotten team this past season, Arizona was a likely NCAA tournament team for most of the campaign despite having nothing to play for due to a self-imposed ban. It’s not clear the Wildcats will be able to play in next season’s NCAA tournament either (or if Sean Miller will still be the coach), but until a punishment is handed down, I’m rolling with them as a potential second-weekend team. Miller’s teams in the past have been known for defense, but this version was terrific offensively. James Akinjo is an excellent playmaker at the point of attack, and the Wildcats have an assortment of versatile frontcourt players to give teams problems. Benedict Mathurin, Kerr Kriisa, Dalen Terry, Azuolas Tubelis and Jordan Brown all made impacts during their first year in Tucson, and Miller also brings in a solid recruiting class led by top-100 prospect Shane Nowell. Expect Arizona to hit the portal, too.

No. 20 … Oregon … Like Arkansas and a couple of other programs, Oregon is another situation where I just assume it will find players in the spring to fill out the roster. Dana Altman does it every year, and he gets the team humming during the second half of the season. And he’ll probably do it again in 2021-22. Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte, L.J. Figueroa and Amauri Hardy are all seniors, while Chandler Lawson is transferring. But Will Richardson leads the returnees, which also includes double-figure scorer Eric Williams. N’Faly Dante only played six games last season before tearing an ACL, while Franck Kepnang had impressive moments in the NCAA tournament. The Ducks also bring in top-10 prospect Nate Bittle, who will bring versatility to the frontcourt. Given all the production potentially leaving, Oregon could use an upgrade in its wing scoring. Whether that’s via returnee Aaron Estrada or on the transfer market, it should be priority No. 1 in Eugene.

Meanwhile, at CBS Sports … 

From CBS Sports … It’s literally never been more difficult than it is right now to try to project how college basketball will look next season because of the expected addition of a one-time transfer waiver that’ll allow players to leave one school and play at another immediately.

The transfer portal is on fire.

Many relevant names will be on new teams soon enough — and most of the biggest decisions haven’t been made yet. In other words, countless rosters remain very much a work in progress. But the 2020-21 college basketball season is over, which means the first CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1 for the 2021-22 season must publish.

So here we are.

UCLA will start at No. 1 based on the assumption that every meaningful piece that helped the Bruins make the Final Four, and finish 13th at KenPom, will return to campus. Obviously, Johnny Juzang has a decision to make about the NBA Draft. But if he comes back, and picks up right where he left off, UCLA — which is adding five-star prospect Peyton Watson — should have a real chance to return to the Final Four.

Please note that I’m operating under the assumption most meaningful seniors will not return for another season even though the NCAA is allowing it, and that most projected first-round and second-round NBA Draft picks will enter (and remain in) the NBA Draft. As always, some players will make decisions in the coming weeks and months that run counter to that assumption. As always, when that happens, I’ll adjust the Top 25 And 1 accordingly.

No. 1 … UCLA … Every meaningful player who helped the Bruins make the Final Four is currently projected back on campus – among them NCAA Tournament star Johnny Juzang. UCLA will add five-star prospect Peyton Watson and should have all of the pieces necessary to win a national title.

No. 21 … Arizona … Most of the pieces that helped Arizona finish in the top 30 at KenPom are expected back. As long as James Akinjo withdraws from the NBA Draft, the Wildcats should return to the NCAA Tournament (provided they’re eligible for the NCAA Tournament).

No. 22 … USC … Andy Enfield should have the Trojans back in the NCAA Tournament – as long as Isaiah Mobley doesn’t join his brother, Evan Mobley, in the NBA Draft. A top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Reese Dixon-Waters will help offset the departures.

No. 24 … Oregon … Dana Altman is among the best at reloading his roster each offseason via the transfer market. So it’s safe to assume he’ll find enough good pieces to supplement a core of Will Richardson and Eric Williams, both of whom averaged double-figures this season

—–

April 5th

… CU in the Arena … 

First Way-Too-Early Top 25 Includes Five Pac-12 Teams

… CU not included, despite the numbers below … 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News …  The Hotline has published early top-25 rankings for many, many years; it has never been more difficult to assess rosters than it is this spring.

Combine the free year of eligibility for seniors with the insanity of the transfer portal and the ever-present lure of the NBA Draft, and the projections below are a Jalen Suggs buzzer-beater away from even reaching crap-shoot territory.

And yet, we plow forward.

Note: The NBA Draft is July 29. Our rankings will be updated following the mid-July deadline for players to remove themselves from consideration.

From the Pac-12 … 

4. UCLA: Key questions involve the return (or not) of Chris Smith, the departure (or not) of Johnny Juzang and the immediate impact (or not) of five-star recruit Peyton Watson. Our guess is that Juzang returns — he’s not projected to be a first-round pick, although his stock is rising and it only take one of 30 teams to determine he’s worth the investment. But the Bruins have the system, the mentality and the momentum to start the season in the top five … and stay there.

16. Arizona: We’re assuming a suspension for coach Sean Miller but not a postseason ban, meaning plenty of motivation for what should be a stout roster led by point guard James Akinjo, wing Bennedict Mathurin and big man Azoulas Tubelis. (We believe Akinjo will return after testing the waters.) The Wildcats aren’t back, to their pre-scandal status, but they are inching forward.

19. Oregon: As usual for April, the state of the roster is highly uncertain. We’re assuming Chris Duarte moves on. But what about Eugene Omoruyi, LJ Figueroa and Will Richardson? The other puzzle piece is the health of big man N’Faly Dante. We know the Ducks are welcoming five-star big man Nathan Little, and that Dana Altman will construct a rotation worthy of the NCAAs, even if it takes months to coalesce.

22. USC: Evan Mobley is assuredly off to the NBA, where he’s expected to be one of the top-three selections; we believe invaluable guard Tahj Eaddy will depart, as well. But if Isaiah Mobley returns, the Trojans have a big man to build around. Enough other pieces could join him (Drew Peterson, Ethan Anderson) to keep USC relevant. The recruiting class is solid but thus far lacks more Mobleys.

25. Oregon State: We beavlieve, for now

Also considered (no particular order): Iowa, Virginia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma, BYU, Georgetown, Winthrop, Georgia Tech, Colorado State, Belmont, Purdue, Drake, Loyola, Colorado, Florida, Louisville, St. Bonaventure, Tennessee, San Diego State, VCU, Wichita State and Syracuse.

In case you were wondering … 

Final Pac-12 Standings (and 247 2021 Recruiting Class Rank)

  1. Oregon … 14-4 … 21-7 … Recruiting Class rank: No. 37 … Wilner’s 2021-22 preseason rank: No. 19
  2. USC … 15-5 … 25-8 … Recruiting Class rank: No. 12 … Wilner’s 2021-22 preseason rank: No. 22
  3. Colorado … 14-6 … 23-9 … Recruiting Class rank: No. 13 … Wilner’s 2021-22 preseason rank: Unranked
  4. UCLA … 13-6 … 22-10 … Recruiting Class rank: No. 30 … Wilner’s 2021-22 preseason rank: No. 4
  5. Arizona … 11-9 … 17-9 … Recruiting Class rank: No. 23 … Wilner’s 2021-22 preseason rank: No. 16
  6. Oregon State … 10-10 … 20-13 … Recruiting Class rank: No. 115 … Wilner’s 2021-22 preseason rank: No. 25

… Just sayin’ … 

—–

April 4th

… CU in the Arena … 

What UCLA’s showing means to the future of Pac-12 basketball

From the San Jose Mercury News … A victory by UCLA against Gonzaga, followed by a national title on Monday, would have been the ideal outcome for the conference. But this wasn’t a half-bad finish, either.

The Bruins, a mammoth, 14-point underdog, went basket-for-basketball with the undefeated, top-seeded tournament favorite.

They did it for 40 breathtaking minutes, and then for another breathless five.

They were so good, even USC’s Twitter account offered words of respect.

Gonzaga’s 93-90 overtime escape was an instant classic in the same way that North Carolina-Georgetown (Michael Jordan’s shot) and Duke-Kentucky (Christian Laettner’s shot) were instant classics.

In other words: The best of the best.

It’s not like Gonzaga played poorly, or UCLA caught a lucky break with fouls or injury.

The Zags were terrific, and UCLA matched the level of play.

There were 19 lead changes.

Neither team led by more than seven.

The defense was fabulous, the shotmaking even better.

Goodness, gracious.

But what does UCLA’s incredible performance mean for the Pac-12?

It means the conference’s big brand owns more momentum right now than it has possessed in years — since the first Final Four appearance under Ben Howland, back in 2006. Then and now, the visceral reactions were comparable: UCLA has a chance to be UCLA for years on end.

If the roster moves break right, the Bruins will enter next season as a top-five team. Under a worst-case scenario with NBA attrition, they’re still top-10. Either way, that’s rocket fuel for the conference.

And the Bruins won’t be the only team in the preseason top 25, not after the collective’s march through March.

But the hype must be backed up with victories early in the season against marquee opponents. Those frame everything that follows, all the way through Selection Sunday.

So March was good for Pac-12 basketball, and April 3 was even better — especially if the conference applies lessons learned to its struggling football product.

Continue reading story here

—–

April 3rd

… CU in the Arena … 

Departures of seniors not a sign of issues in the CU locker room

From Pat Rooney at the Daily Camera … D’Shawn Schwartz put together the best CU Buffs careers this side of Josh Scott among the many native Coloradoans recruited during the 11-season tenure of head coach Tad Boyle.

Jeriah Horne made the program’s long wait for a graduate transfer extremely beneficial, ingratiating himself immediately with a veteran Buffs team while hitting countless big shots during an NCAA Tournament season.

And it was impossible not to root for Dallas Walton, the 7-footer from Arvada who overcame a world of injury adversity to provide a consistent post presence for the Buffs.

Schwartz was a 1,000-point scorer and one of the top 3-point shooters in program history. It will be difficult for fans to see him launching threes for one final season at George Mason. Same with Horne, who posted the seventh-best single-season 3-point mark in team history but will finish his nomadic career back at Tulsa, and Walton, who also is seeking a new home for his sixth and final season.

It’s tough to say farewell, but I’ll be honest. Some of the feedback I’ve received has been puzzling. A faction of Buffs fans seemingly believe this is a sign of some sort of inner turmoil within a program that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s been stated in this corner before: The future is bright for the program, and the recent emotional departures simply are matters of the unique circumstances swirling around college basketball in 2021.

First of all, bear in mind the only reason Schwartz, Horne and Walton even have an opportunity to play another season is because the NCAA offered eligibility relief (essentially, a free year) for the pandemic season of 2020-21. Walton had hinted in previous years he might appeal for a sixth season of eligibility given his injury history, but the eligibility relief rendered that process unnecessary. In other years, Schwartz and Horne would be prepping for whatever pro opportunities awaited.

No one but Boyle and the players involved know exactly how the year-end meetings unfolded with CU’s leader, but having covered the program for six seasons it’s not difficult to surmise the gist of those conversations. Boyle certainly didn’t push anyone out of the program. But it’s unlikely Schwartz, Horne, and Walton would have been guaranteed the same roles if they opted to return.

Continue reading story here

—–

April 2nd

… CU in the Arena … 

Virtual recruiting hasn’t hurt Boyle’s efforts – Rick George: “I told Tad to keep playing golf”

From the Daily Camera … During his department update with the media on Thursday, Colorado athletic director Rick George drew a few laughs at the expense of men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle.

George was discussing the ongoing dead period for in-person recruiting, hoping that soon might transform into a sort of “silent period” that would at least allow recruits to visit campuses. While making a point that in the post-pandemic world of collegiate athletics some endeavors that were handled with unprecedented alterations, like recruiting, might not necessarily return in full to the previous norms.

Case in point: Boyle and his staff. While certainly CU’s brain trust would prefer to be on the road, evaluating and eventually meeting new prospects, the handcuffs of pandemic recruiting haven’t hindered the Buffs.

The 2020-21 Buffs were a veteran group, yet they also featured an intriguing freshman class led by players like forwards Jabari Walker and Tristan da Silva, who were unable to take visits to CU. Same with the incoming 2021 class, which is ranked 13th in the nation by 247Sports.com (as of the latest update Friday) despite the final steps of that group’s recruitment getting handled entirely virtually. The Buffs got off to a good start with assembling the 2022 class this week, netting a verbal commitment from four-star forward Joe Hurlburt.

“I think that (silent period) is kind of a start getting back to some sense of normalcy,” George said. “But I also think that we’ve learned a lot from this. I told Tad go play golf every day and recruit like you have. You had the best class in your history so (heck), you don’t need to be on the road.”

Continue reading story here

First-team All-Pac-12 star Mya Hollingshed to return for second senior season

Press release from CUBuffs.com … Unfinished business.

That’s what Colorado senior Mya Hollingshed wrote in a statement on Friday, announcing her return to the Buffaloes for the 2021-22 season.

“First off, I want to thank my family, my teammates, and my coaches for their enduring support through this decision-making process. I came to the University of Colorado four years ago with dreams that were as big as the Flatirons. Over my time here, I have grown in every way imaginable. While I’m honored to be considered for the 2021 WNBA Draft, my teammates and I are excited to continue our hunt for a PAC-12 Championship and a deep run into the NCAA Tournament! We have unfinished business!

 Houston will always be my home, but the community of Boulder has embraced me as one of their own. I hope Buffalo fans are just as excited as I am for the 21-22 season…LET’S RUN IT BACK!”

Hollingshed, a Houston, Texas, native, concluded the 2020-21 season averaging the best numbers of her four-year career. She led the Buffs in both points (15.4 ppg) and rebounds (7.8 rpg). Hollingshed scored double figures in 20 of CU’s 23 games this season. She recorded 10 or more points in 18 straight games, from Dec. 6 to Mar. 19.

“I am beyond excited about Mya’s decision to return for her fifth year,” head coach JR Payne exclaimed. “Mya has developed into one of the premier post players in the country and I know that she is motivated and excited to see how much more she can accomplish with an extra year of eligibility.”

The senior became the 32nd player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points. She finished the season with 1,244 points, good for 22nd on CU’s all-time scoring list. She snagged 179 rebounds this season, giving her 681 for her career (15th all-time).

Hollingshed scored a career-high 32 points in CU’s 77-72 overtime win over then-No. 1 Stanford. She also notched a career-high 17 rebounds at Arizona State. Hollingshed leads the Pac-12 with eight double-doubles this season, giving her 16 on her career. She also scored 20 or more points in four games this season, giving her 13 career 20-point games.

“I know Mya has big goals for herself as well as our program,” Payne added. “She has the work ethic and leadership to match all those goals. Big things are in store for the Buffs. As she said, ‘Let’s run it back!'”

A fifth season will help Hollingshed continue to climb up the CU record books. She has a chance to become the 13th player to score more than 1,500 career points and chase down Rachel Hargis’s record for games played (134). Hollingshed has appeared in 110 games in her career, starting 79. She is averaging 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and a 44.3 field goal percentage.

The NCAA granted student-athletes who competed in the 2020-21 season an additional year of eligibility due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

—–

March 30th

… CU in the Arena … 

Jeriah Horne bids CU a fond farewell 

From Horne’s tweet, joining all of the other seniors who have decided not to return for the 2021-22 season … 

CU picks up first commit from the Class of 2022; 6’10”, 225-pound four-star 220-pound center Joe Hurlburt

Rivals bio247 Sports bio … Hurlburt is considered to be a four-star prospect by both recruiting services. Rivals has Hurlburt rated as the No. 15 center in the nation, and the No. 101 overall player in the nation, while 247 Sports has Hurlburt as the No. 11 center, and the No. 86 overall prospect …

From 247 SportsJoe Hurlburt, the No. 86 overall prospect in the 2022 Top150, has committed to Colorado, he tells 247Sports.

“I will be going to the University of Colorado,” Hurlburt told 247Sports.

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound center prospect out of Enderlin (N.D.) Area committed to the Buffaloes over offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon State and Wisconsin among others.

“I have had a really good relationship with all of the coaches for quite some time now,” he said of why he chose Colorado. “I went out there for an elite camp my freshman year and I wasn’t being heavily recruited, I had like no offers and coach [Tad] Boyle sat me down in his office and explained everything in depth to me for like well over an hour and that gave me a really good impression of coach Boyle and the whole coaching staff.”

“Coach [Mike] Rohn then flew to see me workout and that also played a factor that he knows where I am from and he’s put in that effort,” he added. “A lot of people don’t know this but I have always been drawn to the Pac 12. I told people when I was in the sixth grade that I wanted to play in the Pac 12 and it ended up becoming a reality for me.”

Continue reading story here

—–

March 29th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Seniors D’Shawn Schwartz and Dallas Walton enter transfer portal

From the Daily Camera … Native Coloradoans D’Shawn Schwartz and Dallas Walton have suited up for their home state Buffaloes for the final time.

Yet that doesn’t mean the duo is quite done with college basketball just yet.

On Monday, Schwartz and Walton entered the NCAA transfer portal, intending to take advantage of the eligibility relief granted for the 2020-21 pandemic season to play an extra season elsewhere.

One potential landing spot for both players is George Mason University, which named well-liked former CU assistant Kim English as its head coach last week. According to gmuhoops.com, English expects to hire as an assistant former Buffs player and CU’s Director of Player Development, Nate Tomlinson.

The turn of events doesn’t change the spring plans for CU head coach Tad Boyle. Even if any of the 2020-21 seniors had opted to stay, the extra year does not count against the scholarship limit in 2021-22. The Buffs have two open scholarships to use this spring to bolster a 2021 recruiting class ranked 12th in the nation by 247Sports.com.

UPDATE … Alexander Strating and Isaac Jessup both entered the portal Monday, as well. Jessup was a walk-on but Strating’s departure will open up another scholarship for CU.

Jeriah Horne and Maddox Daniels are the two remaining scholarship seniors whose intentions ahead of this upcoming season are unknown.

If neither of them opt to return, Colorado has two open scholarships to use on the transfer market in competing a 13-man roster for the 2021-2022 campaign. The Buffs currently have 11 players on scholarship for next year.

—–

March 27th

… CU in the Arena …

Larry Scott: Pac-12’s performance “will have a multiplier effect … people will have a deeper respect for the conference”

From 247 Sports … Prior to the start of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Pac-12 was not the conference people thought would have the most success in March. Now, with the Sweet 16 beginning on Saturday, the league still has four teams remaining in the field.

Now, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott hopes that the conference will get some more respect going forward. Speaking with ESPN, Scott admitted that he thinks a slight East Coast bias exists in the college basketball media. That might have been why so many people overlooked the depth that the Pac-12 boasted in college basketball this year.

“It will help for sure. I think there is subtle bias for West Coast teams because of the time zone and given the concentration of media on the East Coast,” Scott said. “But the performance this year will have a multiplier effect in future years. I think our teams will get the benefit of the doubt and more people will have a deeper respect for the depth and competitiveness in the conference.”

—-

45 Replies to “Colorado Basketball – Spring/Summer, 2021”

  1. Congratulations Spencer.
    Big money for you!!

    Wonder if Spencer is going to “give back to CU”

    ForeverBuff Spencer Dinwiddie

    Note: Even though earache says CU and the HC had nothing to do with his success in the pros. Kinda interesting. Would be nice if he did? Have any of Tads players “given back to CU? Curious. But probably not since Tad had nothing to do with their success. Bad Rap

    1. It is odd that we don’t hear much about former players who excelled either professionally in their sport or otherwise giving back to CU. I can’t recall ever hearing of any, although some must have. But to your point, I guess Mason and Dave should credit Hawkins, chido and Phil, macintyre. Etc. Got it.

      Go Buffs

  2. That is a great story/interview w/ Tad. I find this quote relevant to our recent discussions:

    “We have an NBA wall (in the facility) that we obviously show (to the recruits). (Our NBA guys are) all on it. I tell them, “I can’t put you on that wall. These guys are on that wall because of what they did when they got here. They put the time in the gym, they put the time in the weight room.”

    Go Buffs

    1. so you are short shifting Tad’s modesty for your own arguments
      gimme a break earache
      I what you lack makes you a prime candidate to run for office

      1. Tad’s too genuine to believe he can take a kid and get them to the NBA because of his coaching chops. He knows the kid has to do it. Can he help add tools to their tool bag? Yes. But the kid has to make use of them, put the time in, and do the work.

        Go Buffs

        1. And, have the physical tools he cannot coach a lick, to begin with. I have to add that “duh” statement. Tad didn’t “make” any of the players that have come through his program into NBA players. The players did that. Derek, McKinley, Spencer, etc. What Tad did do, is find them, and get them to Boulder.

          Go Buffs

          1. why are we even paying Tad?
            your lack of faith in coaches is clinical.
            I was pretty much joking last time but I feel your trauma with coaches is real now

  3. Pundits are wrong as they keep mentioning/focusing on our incoming class…aside from Kin and Chauncy, can’t remember a frosh coming in and making a material impact. They tend to look more like Bey, Battey…Jabari even spent a year at finishing school.
    The team will go as far as the DeSilva, O’brien, Walker class…takes them this year. 2022/2023 the flywheel really starts humming.

  4. When it comes to anything on the filed and/or court Wilner is definitely the established loser. He is better off to quit embarrassing himself and stick to reporting on administrative issues in the PAC but you know how his ego is

  5. Dear Tad,

    Thank you for the 7 am wake up call. Meaning the hammering etc on you new house.
    Course I am already up.

    Congrats

    VKBuff

  6. Roll Tad.
    In football, at least in the recent past, getting to a bowl game was the mark of a successful season. You have to win at least half your games and it ain’t easy in big time football. Because it got you 15 extra practices and another real game to get you into the next year.

    In BB it is getting to the “Dance”. Ya most likely gotta win 20 to get there so it is a pretty stern measure.
    Clearly Tad-Ball is capable of winning 20. Get to the NCAA’s every year. Beat some really good teams. Not sure if it is realistic to look for more. But with this class, and it is a good one, Tad could really make it happen. As some babbler said, “gotta have the dudes” but ya gotta be a good coach to get the most out of em. Maybe this is Tads move year. Meaning up the ladder. Some say he is a good/great coach (best CU has ever had). Hard to disagree.
    He appears to be a good coach who can win with okay players
    Now that he appears to have better players (all stars) can he dominate.

    Hope so.

    He got a raise. Building a new house. Moving from a nice neighborhood to a nice Golfing neighborhood. Nice place to retire.

    Go Big Tad……………Go Buffs.

    1. Will Chauncey getting the HC gig in Portland help raise CU’s stock? Along with a really good season from the Buffs. Could a good run in the tourney along with an ex-Buff coaching in the NBA (assuming he does well) put the Buffs on the map for future recruits?

      Chauncey did play for Tad too, so there’s that. As you would say.

      1. Chauncey didn’t play for Tad, it just that Tad has been at CU so long I “for/got it wrong”. Oh, well.

  7. no plays, no zone
    on other words …..Y ball
    or
    Tad ball as usual
    Y ball or Tad ball works well with a talent advantage or a player or 2 goes on a shooting roll but
    Tad ball is frustrating for me. Tad is a good enough coach/recruiter to keep the Buffs with a winning record but it seems to me it shouldn’t be that hard to take it further.
    Things did go well last year winning the first round in the dance but the second game exposed the Buff’s offense capabilities when they ran into a D even better than Tad’s.

    1. Mornin! I know you like Tad. Well, I think you do. I know you want more out of him, and CU basketball, which is also fair. I know you know more about basketball than I do, only because I know not much about it, beyond it’s like any hoop/goal game, conceptually.

      But, when you say “it shouldn’t be that hard to take it further” I wonder, where does that opinion get formed? Got some examples that illustrate that it shouldn’t be “that hard to take it further?”

      I mean, coaching is a grind. Coaching D1 sports, more so. Coaching D1 sports at a high level – as Tad does – more so. And he’s done remarkably well in his coaching career, at CU and before CU.

      Now, it will be interesting to see how this “greatest recruiting class ever” translates. My bet? Another incremental step up the ladder for CU basketball. Can he sustain that steady improvement? My bet is yes. Will it be in a straight line? Probably not.

      Go Buffs

      1. I have harped on this many times before.
        Once in a while the Buffs will put a teamwork play on offense that will have you pumping your fist in the air and yelling yeeehaw….but unfortunately their half court offense more times than I like is 4 guys standing still and passing the ball back and forth across the perimeter until someone takes an outside shot, tries to beat the defender off the dribble or make a pass inside to Evan. I would like to see more of a motion offense with system(s) and plays designed to get guys open for a pass on the move. Things like picks for guys without the ball to get open, set ups for give and goes. With most of the players moving at the same time in a coordinated fashion its tougher for the D to cover. I also get the feeling it would tire the D faster especially at altitude.
        I am no fan of BYU for reasons other than basket ball but they are one of the teams that do teamwork better than most. They, however, and Gonzaga usually have consistent 3 point shooters which opens up the middle a lot more for other things. One of these days Tad will recruit one of those infuriating guys who shoot the 3 and never seem to miss.
        Even simple plays can be fun. I have heard Eli is a leaper so it would be fun to watch the rest of the team lure their defenders out of the middle (if they arent in a zone), have Eli take his to the hoop a little more often and slam in his face from an alley oop.

  8. Well deserved raise for Roll Tad. Does anyone know how his salary compares to HCKD’s salary? Also was the Regents’ vote unanimous?

    1. Nice article-thanks for the link.

      Lunardi wrote:” Cronin, a supposed paragon of ugly — and consistently winning — basketball, coached the 11th-most efficient offense in America last season. UCLA didn’t play fast (341st in adjusted tempo according to KenPom) but the Bruins played very well.

      Efficiency on offence matters- defense and rebounding alone are not enough in the age of the three point line and how the game is officiated.

      Recruiting and player development are paramount if you want to go to the tourney and stick around for awhile. Tad received some well deserved kudos which was nice to read. However, “the Purdue of the Pac-12? ” Not sure about that one.

      1. Hey man, glad you enjoyed that piece. It’s good to see Tad get some love outside of Boulder every once in a while.

        I’ve been thinking about the offensive efficiency piece, in passing, at least – and know I know jack squat about basketball, basically – in your opinion, is that more driven by the players scoring on more shots than they miss, or by the coaching and the sets they run that help the players get more points/shot (ie: higher efficiency)? To me, it’s about the players making their shots, but… that’s just me. If you miss all your shots, you’re not efficient. If you make 100% of your shots, you’re efficient. Obviously that’s over simplified, but you get the point.

        In my simple mind, it seems there’s a bunch of ways to skin that efficiency cat. I read one piece about some team/coach/philosophy (whom I don’t recall maybe Arkansas? Alabama?) that basically shuns the mid-range jumper b/c it’s not an efficient shot, relatively speaking. The premise being, get to the rack for a layup or dunk (high efficiency) or if you’re going to shoot from outside, go way out and hit 3s b/c the extra point on makes offsets the misses that are “in line” w/ the mid-range jumper misses anyway, I guess?

        But, from a defensively minded coach, can’t you achieve offensive efficiency by creating turnovers and getting defensive rebounds, that lead to fast breaks that get you layups and dunks?

        How would you skin the offensive efficiency cat, in an ideal world? How would you skin it w/ CU’s roster? I’ve no clue. And it’s probably always evolving. But I think nobody doubts that scoring more than your opponent wins games. I don’t think anyone doubts that, anyway.

        Curious on your perspective there.

        Go Buffs

  9. Is Wilner just as lazy as most sports writers or does he do this crap just to piss of the Buff Nation?
    Maybe I should give him credit for knowing the 2 names of Buff recruits even he probably came up with them by reading Rooney…..even though he missed (on purpose? nahhh) the recruit with the most upside in Quincy Allen.
    Besides being enough obvious to make earache look like a guru he had to say twice it was all fortune…or luck…that the Buffs landed these guys.
    What I really take pleasure in is how the Buffs have used his trojans even with their overrated “uber talent” twin…whatever his name is.

  10. Another gem for the best on-paper recruiting class in CU hoops history. Now lets see who is the real deal. Tad’s going to have some interesting practice days ahead finding the top rotation of guys who play the 1-3 spots. And Drew Carter ain’t going to be one of them.

    After the program flat-lined after the 2017-2018 season I said Tad needed to improve: (1) offensive efficiency (2) recruiting (3) player development. He’s done all three and then some.

    If you would have told me as a student sitting in a 75% empty arena during the *Joe Harrington years that CU fans were disappointed with only winning 1 game in the NCAA tourney and followed that up with a top-10 national recruiting class I would have phone the Pueblo mental health hospital for you.

    Well done Mr. Boyle and staff.

    * all due respect to Donnie Boyce, Fred Edmonds and Mack Tuck and some freshman named Billups who played their asses off for CU

    1. Love a 4* known as much for his defense as his offense. In the theme of continuity appears we found our Eli replacement for lock down perimeter defender after next year.

    2. Am I correct that Boyle came from Larry brown’s coaching tree? It seems to me, as someone who knows less than most on BB and have learned most of what I know over the last 10 years, it seems that, as Boyle has built the program he’s matured into a quality CEO of the program and he has it’s trajectory regarding it’s future within his sight… as planned.

      If he keeps building on this year, while competing with the top PAC12 schools, while they are also on their own rise, this could be big for both CU and the conference. USC, UCLA & OSU all looked great in the NCAA and on a different night, who knows about the Buffs too?

      If the PAC12 has 4-6 schools make it back to next year’s tourney, with 3 or 4 going far again it could turn around the last few disappointing years and here’s hoping CU is back to being one of the ones that go deep into the tourney while bringing in another fine class; let’s hope Boyle is starting a legacy of his own!

  11. You may be right…
    He may be crazy
    but
    Lunardi may just be
    the
    Lunatic yur looking for………

    Sing it ep………

    Okay then.
    Buffs in Bubble mode
    CSU a 10 seed

    Respect………just a little bit………………..

    go buffs.

    Note: Okay lady Buffs. Nice class two real nice transfers. Minimum a 10 seed

    Note 2: Mens Buff have an excellent class and an excellent transfer.

    Note 3: Predict bye in the Pac 12 tourney

    Lunardi the lunitic

    1. you want me to sing it, VK?
      ok here goes….. to AC DC’s best known tune:

      CRAP is CRAP
      Lunardi is back
      way too soon
      and he’s gonna spoon
      this puke to the rubes
      that aint worth a pube

      Seriously???
      I may waste as much time as the next guy but I would like to think wasting time is relative. Why stop here Spoonardi? Give us the dance line up for the 2 years after. I doubt if they will be any further from reality than this one.
      As long as he is getting paid for it Lunardi aint a lunatic. I guess it gives the bar flies down at wild wings something to throw around while there is nothing on besides….groan….baseball.

  12. Looking for some feedback from AZbuff on the local Tucson attitude towards their new hoops coach. I asked Rooney in his chat room if he thought the Zag assistant hired down there would actually make the team better if he could install the same team chemistry that exists on on he Zags. another chat room participant relayed some comments that indicated some of the AU fans were disgruntled that they hired a lowly assistant (not an HC) and from a lesser conference. I thought hat was a pretty arrogant reaction. Is that really the common sentiment down there?

  13. Wilner is usually an ill informed troll. This article is an example of this. Oregon State has a better trajectory? Wazzu? Please. He is easily distracted by the newest shiniest objects.

  14. Tad needs Lovering (5) to be the real deal because Battey (4)is foul prone and after those two they are thin up front. Walker/De Silva are nice but not true 4’s. Tad has a plethora of 1-3’s and in solid shape except for needing a true 3-point threat to emerge.

    Surprised he didn’t try to get a another big in the portal (or maybe he did and was turned down or he is keeping options open in case one becomes available late..)

    That’s just Wilner-speak for a guy who doesn’t follow the program closely but needs to give the appearance he does…..Tad and gang has the 13th rated class in the country for cripes sake…you telling me that’s not a program on the uptick?

    Go Buffs.

  15. can someone, maybe even wilner himself, tell me what gives wilner any cred to pick to pick a top 25 over any other well watched fan? Did his coach/dad appoint him the point guard of his Sunnyvale 5th grade biddie ball team?
    So surprised (not) he actually made the reach to include his condoms even though by his own pathetic standards they are losing more from the draft/ graduation than the Buffs. Funny he didnt mention any incoming players for the spoiled brats either.
    Go Buffs…continue to own Enfield

  16. Stuart, did you happen to see the incident I will be referring to below ?

    On a side note: I know a lot of CU faithful saw the classless Azorina women’s coach “Flip the Finger” and say “F’em” during their post-game celebration, then she had the audacity to say she would not be forthcoming with an apology.

    Then she went on to say (my full paraphrasing on this one) that they had worked their butt off all season (who hasn’t) and that it was a celebration (their style, I assume) and she didn’t think she needed to apologize.

    WELL.

    Where is the AZ university president or their AD on this ? Unless they issue an apology to the rest of the PAC-12, their morals as decent human beings are in question….as well as hers.

    SORRY SISTER…..YOU are a disgrace to the PAC-12. It would be nice to see you with walking papers in hand….soon is not soon enough.

      1. This is Arizona. A clearly corrupt athletic department. Anything goes and no accountability to be found. How could the women’s coach be disciplined while Sweaty Miller runs around scot free? The President and AD have created a monster that only those above them can fix. But I suspect those above them are in on it as are the fans.

  17. Any Buffs fan with a decent memory will NOT be rooting for Baylor tonight. Remember $hit they pulled when we left the Big 12? No sir. Baylor is an athletic department that operates in the gutter in my opinion.

  18. And let’s not forget the two teams in the NCAA women’s championship were both from the Pac-12.

  19. Yo Stuart,
    I wonder how that East Coast Bias crew is going to spin 4 teams out of 4 teams in the final four ALL being from west of the Mississippi River? That’s why we need a real tournament for football too. So it can be settled on the field, not in the minds of biased voters.

    Mark / Boulderdevil

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