Tory Miller-Stewart is gone, a move that once again leaves Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle with the same open scholarship he had to work with at the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
As he stated in November when the 2018 signing class still featured that open slot, Boyle will pursue a big man to bolster his roster. However, given the turn of events that occurred on the floor after the 6-foot-9 Miller-Stewart suffered a season-ending broken foot after just six games, Buffaloes fans probably shouldn't stress over the current void in CU's frontcourt.
One silver lining surrounding the loss of Miller-Stewart so early in the season was that it provided greater playing time to sophomore forward Lucas Siewert, 7-foot redshirt freshman Dallas Walton, and freshman forward Tyler Bey. All three players displayed clear signs of improvement as the season progressed, leaving Boyle far more encouraged with the future of his frontcourt situation than he was at the outset of the season.
"The silver lining in Tory's injury for our young post guys was they got thrown in the fire and they got more minutes," Boyle said. "That's true for Dallas. It's true for Lucas. And it's true for Tyler, but probably more so for Dallas and Lucas. All three of them got more minutes because Tory broke his foot. That is good for those three guys long-term. It obviously wasn't good for us short-term and it certainly wasn't good for Tory. But it's part of college basketball."
Walton did not see action in two early games while Miller-Stewart still was in the mix but came on strong the rest of the way, eventually starting 24 of the final 25 games of the season. Walton still needs to improve his rebounding figures after averaging just 3.4 over 30 games, yet he became adept at altering shots at the back of the Buffs' zone defense and finished with a team-leading 34 blocked shots. He also shot .461 from the floor while displaying a more dependable mid-range jumper than Miller-Stewart did over three full seasons.
Siewert struggled to build on his freshman season through the first half of 2017-18 but emerged in a hurry down the stretch, recording eight of his 12 career double-digit scoring games over the season's final 11 contests. That included five in a row to finish the season, and he went 8-for-16 overall and 8-for-8 at the free throw line during CU's two games in the Pac-12 Conference tournament while averaging 14 points.
For the season, Siewert averaged 6.8 points and three rebounds in 30 games.
Bey played more of a small forward position but his quick-leaping ability made him one of the Buffs' most consistent rebounders, finishing the season ranked second on the team at 5.3 per game while adding seven points per game.
In 101 games during his CU career, Miller-Stewart averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. With Boyle hopeful that freshman forward Evan Battey will be the mix next season as well — Battey, sidelined since the holidays due to a medical issue, released a tweet this week reading, "I still have medical tests to go through...and I'm hoping those go well" — Miller-Stewart might have been the fourth or even fifth forward in the mix had he opted to return to CU for a fifth season.
Given his relationship with former CU assistant and current University of Denver coach Rodney Billups, DU certainly is a potential landing spot for Miller-Stewart, who is leaving the Buffs as a graduate transfer who will be eligible immediately for the 2018-19 season. As for the Buffs' open roster spot, Boyle said all possibilities are on the table from adding a transfer to a foreign player or even a high school athlete whose recruitment might re-open this spring, as was the case a year ago with point guard McKinley Wright.
"We're looking at everything," Boyle said.