Chances are D'Shawn Schwartz will provide offense immediately. Getting up to speed on defense, however, is proving far more challenging.

Schwartz is beginning his first season with the Colorado men's basketball team with twin burdens saddled upon his 6-foot-7 shoulders. First, Schwartz arrived at CU as the highest-ranked recruit in a freshman class that has an opportunity to go down as the best recruiting class in the program's history.

What is perhaps even more pressure-producing is that Schwartz also is the only homegrown talent among the group, a smooth-shooing lefty from Colorado Springs who continues a line of top in-state recruits who have landed in Boulder under head coach Tad Boyle's watch.

Schwartz set numerous scoring records at Sand Creek High School. Reshaping those skills to be equally potent on the defensive end of the floor has been his biggest preseason challenge.

"The most challenging part is defense. It's bigger, quicker guys, and the rotations," Schwartz said. "I've never had to put this much emphasis on defense before. There has never been anyone that has taken (defense) this serious. I'm catching heat day in, day out, but it's good that I'm being coached on it.

"I'm just getting better every day. I'm seeing growth every time I step on the court. The coaches are definitely letting me know when I'm not doing something right, just correcting me play after play. As far as the offensive end, I know that's solid and I don't really have to worry about that."


Schwartz was unanimously considered one of the top 100 recruits in the nation last year, ranking 69th in the ESPN100. had him ranked at No. 67, while pegged Schwartz at No. 89. During his prep career, Schwartz set Sand Creek scoring records for a game, season, and career, and this week a Sports Illustrated list of the top 50 projected scorers among freshmen in the 2017-18 college basketball season put Schwartz at No. 42.

Schwartz didn't fully showcase those skills in August during the Buffaloes run of four exhibition games in Italy — he went 6-for-16 overall with a 2-for-3 mark from 3-point range — but he impressed Boyle with how well he took care of the ball. Schwartz averaged 15 minutes and was charged with just one turnover during the four games.

"D'Shawn is a very good open shooter. When he's open I want him to shoot the ball," Boyle said. "He's a very capable shooter. He can put the ball on the floor. I was very pleased with D'Shawn with how well he took care of the ball over in Italy. His turnover numbers were very respectable for a guy who's handling the ball on the perimeter.

"But yes, his playing time will be dictated on how well can he defend, and how well he can rebound. I've told the team that's what's going to separate everybody."

Boyle also has been challenging Schwartz to become a proficient rebounder. He averaged 9.8 a game last year at Sand Creek with 12 double-doubles, but he was able to do much of that damage simply because he was the biggest, most talented player on the floor. Despite his size and long arms, Schwartz still is learning to translate those rebounding skills to the Division I level.

"Right now he's got a lot of things going through is head, so it's kind of one step at a time," Boyle said. "If he wants to separate himself, which he's got the ability to do, making (rebounding) a priority is going to be a key for him."

Pat Rooney: or