There was a moment Saturday morning that has been ingrained in Jean Prioleau's instincts for the past seven years, as he briefly interrupted a drill to make sure a few of the Colorado Buffaloes were on the same page defensively.
It was the sort of teaching moment Prioleau has probably offered a thousand times over during his seven seasons on Tad Boyle's coaching staff. Saturday, though, was Prioleau's final coaching assignment in CU black-and-gold.
While the CU men's basketball team went through the first of eight practices ahead of the team's exhibition trip through Italy, the occasion also served as an official farewell to Prioleau, who on Friday was named the head coach at San Jose State. Given that Prioleau leaves for California Sunday to be formally introduced at SJSU during a Monday morning press conference, and that he certainly has plenty of packing and other details to address, he nonetheless made a point of following through with his final obligation at CU.
"I wanted to be here because I wanted to talk to the guys," Prioleau said. "The way it panned out, it hit the media and we didn't have practice until (Saturday) morning. I have 200 texts right now and I didn't have a chance to text the guys, but I wanted to talk to them and just be around them for my last practice. I just wanted them to know I love them and I'll always be there for them."
Like fellow assistant Mike Rohn, Prioleau was an original member of Boyle's staff when he was hired prior to the 2010-11 season. Dating back to their days as assistants at Wichita State in the early 2000s, the trio has spent 12 college basketball seasons on the same bench. For a staff that has enjoyed a rare level of stability, Prioleau's departure marks the second consecutive year in which Boyle will have to hire a fresh face. Rodney Billups spent four seasons as a CU assistant, and six overall on the basketball staff, before taking the head coach job at the University of Denver last year.
"Coach Pri and I have been roommates on the road now for I don't know how many nights," Rohn said. "It's something he's been working toward for a long time and he's ready for it. You're so happy for him but it's going to be tough to see him go. We're as close as you can be on the court, and off the court he's more than just a coaching friend."
Prioleau's ledger with the Buffs includes four NCAA Tournament appearances, two NIT berths, the 2012 Pac-12 Conference tournament championship, and an overall record of 149-95. His efforts on the recruiting trail helped bring three eventual NBA draft picks to Boulder in Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Roberson, and Derrick White. He leaves Boulder having helped bring a highly-regarded freshman class into the fold for the 2017-18 season.
Prioleau was promoted to associate head coach by Boyle in 2013. Asked to highlight Prioleau's contributions during their seven seasons together at CU, Boyle cited the overall body of work as too thorough to whittle down to an accomplishment or two.
"Every success we've had, he's a part of. There's no doubt about it," Boyle said. "It's hard to quantify seven years into one or two things. All I would say is I think the one thing about Jean that stands out to me is he's an everyday guy, an everyday coach. He's very consistent with his effort. He's consistent in everything he does, and that's going to serve him well."
George King, a senior this upcoming season who is the Buffs' top returning scorer and rebounder, recalls struggling at the college level as a true freshman before taking a redshirt year during his second season. King emerged from the hiatus to lead the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting percentage, a jump he credits largely to Prioleau.
"It's a tough loss for the program," King said. "I'm not upset, but it hurts a little bit. He is a big reason why I can shoot the ball as well as I can. He's given me drills that I've stuck by the last three years that has really put me on the map individually.
"He instilled confidence in me. Since I got here he said I could really shoot the ball. He believed in it more than I did at the time, and he's not shy about saying that."
Prioleau will have at least one Colorado homecoming next season, as his Spartans are scheduled to complete a home-and-home series with Billups' Denver Pioneers at DU.