They will see minimal, if any, playing time at the CU Events Center this winter. Nonetheless, some key reinforcements have arrived for the Colorado men's basketball team.
This summer, head coach Tad Boyle finalized the addition of three new walk-ons to join walk-on holdover AJ Martinka for the 2018-19 season. The trio of newcomers adds a distinct Colorado flavor to the Buffaloes' roster with Loveland's Aidan McQuade, Benan Ersek, and Boulder native Frank Ryder joining the Buffs this upcoming season.
Boyle cited two primary reasons behind the inspiration for adding extra walk-ons. First, by the time January and February rolls around there often aren't enough fully healthy bodies to conduct physically intense practices. Secondly, Boyle was keen on the idea of assembling a true scout team to battle his starters on a daily basis.
"Number one, it's a long season," Boyle said. "You get injuries. Sometimes you're looking around in February or the middle of January, and you're down to 10 or 11 guys. Practice and depth is one thing. The other thing it will allow us to do this year is have a legitimate scout squad. In the past we've had maybe some guys who were coming off the bench that were having to play on the scout squad. That's tricky and that's difficult for them to do. This will allow us to come up with a true scout squad.
"(Walk-ons) are very important to us. They always have been, they always will be. They're going to bring a lot to the table in terms of helping us in practice and preparing for games."
Ryder played at Fairview as a freshman and senior while competing at the IMG Academy in Florida as a sophomore and junior. He averaged 4.1 points in 25 games at the University of San Diego during the 2016-17 season but sat out last season due to injury issues. The 6-foot-10 forward will practice with the Buffs but will be ineligible for competition until 2019-20, per NCAA transfer rules. Ryder will have two years of eligibility remaining.
McQuade was a multi-sport star at Loveland High School and has spent the past two seasons as a student manager with the CU women's basketball program. Eligibility-wise, the 6-foot-2 McQuade will be a sophomore.
Ersek, a 6-foot-2 freshman guard, is a native of Austria but moved to Colorado before high school. He attended Kent Denver, the same school that produced former CU walk-on and 2018 graduate Josh Repine. Martinka, a sophomore, also returns as the veteran of the expanded walk-on corps.
"Frank was the last guy we added," Boyle said. "You don't want too many (walk-ons), but you want enough. But Frank, he was a scholarship player at San Diego. He's a legitimate Division I player. We felt like bigs are really hard to get, and he's a local kid. I didn't feel like we could turn him down."