CU men’s basketball: Improved long-range shooting could boost Scott

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
CU forward Josh Scott, right, believes George King, left, and Josh Fortune will bolster the Buffs’ 3-point shooting.

SAN FRANCISCO — Few on-court traits make life easier for a dominant big man than a solid 3-point game. CU forward Josh Scott is hoping a pair of familiar faces in brand new roles will help in that regard throughout his senior season.

The players in question — junior Josh Fortune and sophomore George King — practiced with the team last year but were ineligible to play, with Fortune sitting out after transferring from Providence and King taking a redshirt season.

Both are capable 3-point shooters who could help the Buffs improve on last year’s .335 mark from long range. Which, in turn, would give Scott more room to operate inside.

“George, he’s stronger and he really took advantage of his redshirt year,” Scott said. “Both of them can really shoot, which helps me and Wesley (Gordon) out tremendously.”

Fortune shot 35 percent in 160 attempts from 3-point range as a sophomore two years ago at Providence. Only two CU players topped that mark last year, and both did so with appreciably fewer attempts — Xavier Johnson (.367 in 79 attempts) and Tre’Shaun Fletcher (.458 in 48 attempts).

“Honestly, I’m really excited to play with Fortune,” Scott said. “He’s had college basketball experience before. He’s been there. He kind of understands the game and how to play. It’s going to be nice to have a couple extra snipers out there on the perimeter.”

Vocal support

Sidelined until at least the beginning of Pac-12 play, if not the entire season, due to a torn Achilles tendon, Johnson has been adjusting to a new role during the Buffs’ preseason workouts. Lending vocal support isn’t the job Johnson envisioned going into this senior season, yet it’s one Boyle says he has fully embraced.

“He’s been very vocal, and I think he has really helped some of the guys that are younger, some of the newer players, talking to them and letting them know what to expect,” Boyle said. “It’s really difficult when a guy like that goes down in the summertime. It’s not an easy situation but he’s handled it very, very well.”

Coaches poll

The season’s first USA Today coaches poll was released Thursday, and Arizona led the Pac-12 contingent at No. 10. The Wildcats were followed by Cal at No. 14 and Utah at No. 16.

North Carolina and Kentucky shared the top spot while CU’s season-opening opponent, Iowa State, landed at No. 7.

Quotable

“There were a lot of people talking about how he was a definite first-round pick. It’s quite a statement on the environment that we have for him to be willing to give that up and come back. That’s not the norm.” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, on the return of Austrian 7-footer Jakob Poeltl for his sophomore season.

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07