The first piece of the 2017 recruiting class for the University of Colorado men's basketball team already is in place.
As classes began this past week on the Boulder campus, the Buffaloes welcomed Alexander Strating to the fold. The 6-foot-7 native of the Netherlands will practice with the Buffs this upcoming year as a walk-on freshman, and coach Tad Boyle plans to put Strating on scholarship for the 2017-18 year.
That will leave Boyle will three scholarships to use for the remainder of the 2017 class, following the graduations of this year's senior class of Josh Fortune, Derrick White, Wesley Gordon, and Xavier Johnson. Barring an unforeseen rash of injuries or other sudden roster issues, Strating will redshirt this season and retain four years of eligibility beginning in 2017-18.
The Buffs already have added another newcomer to the 2017-18 rotation in Namon Wright, a transfer from Missouri who also will practice with the Buffs this upcoming season.
"He adds a lot of versatility both offensively and defensively, and he is the kind of guy we want in our program," Boyle said. "Next year we lose XJ, Derrick White, and Josh Fortune — three good-sized perimeter players. Alex fits the bill to come in and acclimate to American culture and to college. He's a hybrid guy, tough and strong."
Strating landed on Boyle's radar after a strong showing at the Canarias Basketball Academy, an institute located in the Canary Islands of Spain. Strating began training at the academy in order to heighten his recruiting profile outside his native Netherlands, where basketball is far from a marquee sport.
"At first I didn't even like basketball, it was more my parents thinking that if I wanted to study in American, basketball would be a good way," Strating said. "But probably when I was 14 or 15 I got more serious about it. (CU) is the best academic and basketball combination I could have had. I looked at a couple other schools — UC Riverside, University of Denver, Loyola of Chicago — but this campus is just beautiful.
"My dream has always been to play on scholarship. When I found out I might be able to play Division I on scholarship it was mind-blowing. Being able to come to a program like this was even crazier."
In Strating's case, there should be little concern that he will have difficulty adjusting to an entirely new culture. His father is a Dutch diplomat, and so since his birth in Ecuador Strating also has lived in China, Australia, and Spain in addition to the Netherlands.
Expect Strating to spend a significant amount of time in the weight room as he prepares to make a mark at the Division I level.
"I think I can bring a lot of toughness — I like being physical and pushing around and that kind of stuff," Strating said. "I think I have to do a lot in the weight room. I've never really lifted before, so these last couple mornings have been pretty tough for me."