By leaving Colorado, Tre'Shaun Fletcher and Kenan Guzonjic provided a huge favor to Tad Boyle.
Of course, the leader of the CU men's basketball program would never say as much so bluntly. Boyle even made a point of stating it's always difficult to lose a player that has been a part of the Buffaloes' basketball family for three seasons, as is the case with Fletcher.
However, when Fletcher and Guzonjic announced their plans to transfer out of the CU program weeks after the Buffs were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, they allowed Boyle and his staff to improve the team's depth in the coming seasons at the expense of two players who likely would have made marginal contributions in the 2016-17 season.
That analysis is particularly unfortunate for Fletcher, who enjoyed his fair share of productive moments during his three seasons with the Buffs and certainly would have provided a measure of depth for CU during his senior season. But the reality is that Fletcher — who averaged a career-best 7.1 points this past year while shooting a solid .347 from 3-point range — already was part of a three-man rotation for two spots on the floor.
By the end of the season Fletcher clearly had become the third wheel in that rotation behind George King and Josh Fortune, both of whom will return. Fletcher was doomed to become the fourth cog in that picture with the addition of Derrick White, who sat out last season after transferring to CU on the heels of a Division II All-America career at UCCS.
Instead of having Fletcher languish at the end of the bench, the Buffs were able to use his scholarship to land 6-foot-10 forward Lucas Siewert out of Los Angeles — a player long coveted by Boyle whose deliberate pace in announcing a commitment forced Boyle to give what had been his lone available scholarship to Arvada West 7-footer Dallas Walton.
With Siewert on board, Fletcher's bench spot instead will be taken by a player who has the potential to step in right away to provide support behind starting forward Wesley Gordon and backup Tory Miller. Moreover, barring an injury situation or some other unforeseen roster alteration, Siewert's arrival will allow the slightly framed Walton, coming off two major knee surgeries in two years, to take a redshirt season during Gordon's final year of eligibility.
While Guzonjic's roster spot has yet to be filled, Boyle undoubtedly will bring in a player who is bound to be a greater asset in forthcoming seasons than Guzonjic. The Bosnian national never showed signs of being able to compete at the Pac-12 Conference level, a realization Guzonjic perhaps understood as he opted to continue his collegiate career with Division II Barry University.
One of the potential transfers the Buffs targeted, former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt, announced last week he would spend his final three years of eligibility at SMU. The Buffs are still targeting Dominik Olejniczak, a 7-footer from Drake who also has three years of eligibility remaining.
Olejniczak is expected to choose among a number of suitors by the end of the upcoming week.
If things fall through for Boyle and the Buffs, it should not be considered a major loss for 2016-17. The open scholarship remains an ace in the hole for the 2017-18 season anyway, and Boyle previously has stated that sitting on it for the next recruiting class is a viable option. That would give CU five potential fresh talents — the open scholarship alongside the ones that will open with next year's graduation of Gordon, Fortune, White, and Xavier Johnson — to pair with Walton and the other 2016-17 newcomers of Siewert, Deleon Brown, and Bryce Peters.
Everyone in and around the CU program has nothing but well-wishes for Guzonjic and especially Fletcher. But their departures allowed the Buffs to stockpile reinforcements on the fly.