As fans rushed the Coors Events Center floor Thursday night in the immediate aftermath of Colorado's overtime victory against No. 4 Arizona State, there probably were more than a few young fans watching the scene who daydreamed about being part of it.
For one of those fans watching the celebration, Daylen Kountz, that daydream will be reality less than a year from now.
The star from Denver East, who signed with CU in November, is focused on leading the Angels through a deep run in the Class 5A state tournament. However, as a frequent visitor to CU, Kountz already is envisioning his part in the Buffs' program.
"They play in the Pac-12 and that's a big deal. They send a lot of people to the next level, pro-wise," said Kountz, who also mulled offers from Wyoming and Wichita State. "I thought with a lot of younger players I'd have the opportunity to play if I get to work and do what I'm supposed to. I love the coaches up there. I love the people up there. I can't wait."
With one Denver East alum, Dom Collier, set to graduate from the CU program following this season, Kountz will join a young core that already includes two Colorado natives in redshirt freshman Dallas Walton (Arvada West) and true freshman D'Shawn Schwartz (Sand Creek).
Kountz was born in Kansas but moved to Colorado within the first few months of his life. His mother, Tameka, also is a Denver East grad, and the Kountz family lives just blocks away from the Collier family in their Denver neighborhood.
"He's friends with Dom Collier. We live just a couple blocks from each other," said Kountz's father, Daryl Kountz. "CU was the place for him."
On Friday, Kountz struggled somewhat in a battle of Class 5A top-five teams at the Manual Thunderdome, with the fourth-ranked Angles dropping a five-point decision against No. 3 Chaparral with CU coach Tad Boyle sitting courtside. While Kountz finished with 28 points on a 10-for-19 night from the floor, he went just 6-for-10 at the free throw line and grabbed just one rebound after entering the game averaging 5.4 per game.
Still, Kountz is among the state's 5A leaders in scoring, averaging over 22 points a game. And while his outside shot still needs honing before his first sojourn through the Pac-12, Kountz is a fearless attacker of the basket whose leaping ability makes him a solid finisher.
"He's a heady player and a good scorer," said longtime East coach Rudy Carey. "Fourteen feet in, he's pretty tough. He can shoot the three too, but he can really attack the basket."