Josh Scott picked up three fouls in the first half of the Buffs' dramatic 81-74 victory over the Racers in the championship game of the Charleston Classic on Sunday night at TD Arena.
During the worst of times for Colorado's bigs, head coach Tad Boyle gritted his teeth and tried not to look down at the end of the bench where Wesley Gordon was sitting but unavailable.
Gordon, the highly coveted freshman forward from Colorado Springs, will be missed at times on the court this season after deciding to redshirt.
Not that long ago, Gordon would have been the only talented big man on campus. Being able to let the 6-8 forward develop is an amazing turn of events for a program still expected to make its first appearance in the polls today since a brief appearance seven seasons ago.
"If you look at the games we played down here there were spots where we could have used a body like Wesley, an athlete like Wesley, a shot blocker like Wesley," Boyle said. "The decision that we kind of made together, which I support 100 percent, is a long-range decision."
Gordon still made the trip to the Charleston Classic and is allowed to practice with his teammates throughout the season.
Not having to worry about the pressure of games will allow the former Sierra High School star to adjust to the academic rigors at CU and add some more muscle to his frame.
That doesn't mean it's easy for Gordon to watch Scott, Xavier Johnson and other members of Boyle's top-25 recruiting class contribute early during CU's impressive 4-0 start.
"It was pretty tough just knowing I could play," Gordon said. "In order to help the program, I decided to redshirt."
Gordon isn't alone.
Chris Jenkins, a talented but super model-skinny 6-7 freshman from Detroit, is also redshirting.
The two will be spending a lot of time together in the weight room.
"It makes us get closer because we're both going through the same thing," Gordon said. "It's going to make him stronger and quicker. He's going to be a very dangerous player because he can shoot. Now he's going to be able to get to the rim without getting off balance."
Scott, the 6-10 freshman from Lewis-Palmer High School, has said his prep rival is the better rebounder of the two right now.
Boyle said Gordon's skill set on the offensive end is under-rated.
"Josh is for sure the better scorer. I personally think Wesley is the better talent," sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie said. "But they're both outstanding players, and I think they're both going to be fantastic for the university.
"They bring such a new dynamic to our team with the inside presence, the shot blocking and rebounding, that we've pretty much only had in (Roberson)."
Scott, who had 13 points and six rebounds in the win over Murray State, is off to a terrific start to his CU career.
Boyle will be able to play the two big men together the next three seasons and expects Gordon to develop into a dominant player by his senior year (2016-17).
"His ceiling is as high as he wants it to be. I think he can be an All-Pac-12 player," Boyle said of Gordon. "Those type of players usually end up playing basketball for money some day. Wesley is going to be as good as he wants to be."
Gordon, who played with the Buffs' during the five-game European tour in August, wasn't surprised by CU's championship run at the Charleston Classic.
"This team was focused from the day we started," Gordon said. "I knew the way we played in the summer together because everybody complemented each other so well."
Boyle's ability to redshirt a blue chip prospect like Gordon puts CU ahead of a trend that will begin in 2016 when the NCAA's strict new eligibility standards for prospective student-athletes go into effect.
According to NCAA statistics, 43.1 percent of men's basketball players who enrolled in 2009-10 would not meet the 2016 academic standards that increase the number of core courses and grade-point average required for eligibility.
"You're going to see a lot of kids not be able to play basketball their first year and they're going to have to do what Wesley and Chris did this year," Boyle predicts. "Wesley and Chris just did it on their own. ... It says volumes about them as a young men."
Gordon said coming off the bench and playing limited minutes this season also played a factor in his decision. If Roberson leaves early for the NBA there is going to be a large void on the roster that he will be able to help fill.
"For a guy like Wesley to have that year of to adjustment, get his body developed, get his mind developed, understand our system, and then have four years going forward starting next year is huge," Boyle said. "It's not only huge for Wesley Gordon, it's huge for our program."
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