While the Colorado Buffaloes bid farewell to assistant Jean Prioleau on Saturday, they also began their final stretch of workouts before the program's four-game trip to Italy later this month.
They resumed workouts without the final piece of their 2017 freshman class, Lazar Nikolic.
Earlier this summer head coach Tad Boyle believed the Serbian guard would be in Colorado in time to take part in the pre-Italy workouts. However, NCAA paperwork and visa issues have conspired to keep Nikolic at home for the time being.
"He's dealing with stuff with NCAA clearinghouse. Transcripts being sent and translated...there are so many hoops you have to jump through," Boyle said. "We were hoping he could be here by now, but some of his work got in a little bit late. Everything had to be graded, transcripts have to be uploaded. (Assistant) Bill Grier has done an unbelievable job with the day-to-day minutiae of getting him here. It just hasn't happened like we wanted to."
Since the 6-foot-7 Nikolic cannot receive his student visa until he receives his NCAA clearance, he remains in a holding pattern at home in Europe. If the situation lingers Boyle didn't rule out the possibility of picking up Nikolic in Italy, as the Buffs depart on their overseas trip Aug. 14.
"We'll know more hopefully early next week," Boyle said. "It's a day-to-day thing."
Even without Nikolic, Saturday's workout still marked the first official practice for one new Buffaloes player, as walk-on AJ Martinka made his CU practice debut.
Martinka takes the place of Mitch Lombard, who left Colorado after being accepted to the prestigious L.A. Film School. Martinka is a 6-foot-5 guard from Stanwood, Wash., north of Seattle.
"I just thought it was a great opportunity," Martinka said. "I want to be able to play at the highest level. Doing basketball at the University of Colorado, that's some good ball right there. I wanted to come here and be a part of it."
Martinka, whose father graduated from CU league rival Washington, was a Class 3A All-State selection by the Washington Coaches Association after averaging 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists as a senior. Assistant Mike Rohn, who generally takes the lead in CU's walk-on program, said Martinka's desire to be a Buff stood out.
"We typically recruit those guys, and AJ was just an intriguing guy who was kind of aggressive in his interest in coming to the University of Colorado," Rohn said. "He's a really good student and a pretty good player. When Mitch (left) it opened up a spot and we had to find somebody in the spring. Beau Gamble, Josh Repine...we've had some really good ones that have fit in. Mitch was a really good player and a good fit for us, and that's what AJ is."
Tad takes the Twitter plunge
Perhaps most surprising on a day that included staff and roster updates was the revelation that Boyle finally has a Twitter account. CU's leader can be found @CoachTadBoyle.
Long openly disdainful of the medium, Boyle said his account "will be a team effort" and that his occasional toe-dipping into the realm of social media will not change his overall view.
"My Twitter account isn't going to help us get a recruit," Boyle said. "What's going to help us get a recruit is my relationship with a young man and their family. You don't get that on Twitter. You get news on Twitter. You get information on Twitter. You get entertainment on Twitter. You waste time on Twitter. You don't get recruits on Twitter."
The Buffs continue pre-Italy workouts with practices on Sunday morning and Monday morning, followed by an evening workout on Tuesday. Wednesday is an off-day, with workouts Thursday through Sunday before departing on Monday, Aug. 14. The Buffs play their first game in Italy on Aug. 17.