With apologies to the former Colorado Buffaloes basketball standouts that will comprise Team Colorado later this week at The Basketball Tournament, chances are they won't soon be lavishing themselves with the $2 million jackpot at stake.
That is not at all a knock on a group of alums that have taken a far more serious approach to the winner-take-all-tournament than a year ago. It's simply a comment on a numbers game in a competition that features 64 teams, several of which boast former NBA stars and even current international standouts.
Team Colorado participated in The Basketball Tournament for the first time last year, when a $1 million winning payout was at stake. Though the former Buffs made a quick exit with a first-game defeat, it nonetheless was a profitable experience for former CU forward Austin Dufault.
Dufault arrived at last year's TBT as a man without a job. Yet in a classic example of using your college classmates for career networking, Dufault found himself playing for Marcus Relphorde's club in Finland not longer after the former teammates reconnected with Team Colorado.
"Around August of last year I didn't have much going on as far as interest from teams," Dufault said. "I started working out with Marcus and he came out to L.A. where we were working out together, and he mentioned he was still in touch with the general manager of his former team. I ended up talking with him, talking with the coach, and they brought me in.
"It ended up being probably my best year so far as a professional. I had a really good role within my team and I fit what we wanted to do. It was kind of like how we played at CU my senior year."
Dufault put together a steady four-year run with the Buffs, starting all 31 games as a freshman in the 2008-09 season and finishing with career averages of 7.9 points per game and 3.9 rebounds. He remains the program's all-time leader in games played (136) and ranks second in starts (130).
Dufault posted career-bests of 11.1 points and 4.4 rebounds during his senior season of 2011-12, when the Buffs won the Pac-12 Conference tournament. Dufault enjoyed a memorable performance that spring in what remains CU's only NCAA Tournament win since 1996, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range and finishing with 14 points and five rebounds in a first-round victory against UNLV.
Dufault spent the following year playing in the Czech Republic and had a brief preseason tryout in Germany a year later before latching on with a team in Macedonia. Dufault played his third professional season in France before last year's run in Finland.
Heading into the 2016 edition of The Basketball Tournament, Dufault remains a free agent for the upcoming season. Yet if last year's experience taught him anything, Dufault knows his basketball fortunes can shift in a hurry.
"It's tough. I've signed as early as the first week of June, and then last year I didn't sign until the first week of August," Dufault said. "You really just have to stay prepared and stay ready at all times because when you get that phone call at any time, you've got to be ready to go. And when you get there they expect you to be ready to perform. It helps keep you focused and helps you stay in shape."
Team Colorado begins play in The Basketball Tournament Saturday night in Los Angeles at approximately 10:15 p.m. MDT. A victory would send the former Buffs into a second-round game on Sunday.