Already eyeing a full and possibly more flexible rotation for the 2016-17 season, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle has been handed a pair of wild cards to play with.
The announcement Wednesday night that junior Tre’Shaun Fletcher and sophomore Kenan Guzonjic were opting to transfer out of the program suddenly gives the Buffs two available scholarships. On Thursday, Boyle reiterated his immediate focus on attempting to add another big man to the Buffs’ roster.
“We’re definitely going to go after another big. Without a doubt,” Boyle said. “We’ll get the best available player we can get. I’d look at a transfer. We’re not going to rush into anything. We’re going to be judicious and prudent in using these scholarships. We’re definitely going to try and sign another big here late.”
With the graduation of star forward Josh Scott and Guzonjic’s departure, CU currently has just two true post players on its roster in Wesley Gordon, who will be a fifth-year senior, and junior-to-be Tory Miller. Adding another big man capable of making an immediate impact, even in a backup role, would provide greater flexibility to give incoming freshman Dallas Walton a redshirt season.
Walton, from Arvada West, generally is considered an intriguing project, with his 7-foot stature balanced by a slight frame and a recent history of knee surgeries. He has given a verbal commitment to the Buffs and is expected to make his pledge official when the spring signing period opens on April 13.
As for the second scholarship that suddenly became available, Boyle said his staff would look for the best available player but added he isn’t averse to sitting on the scholarship for another year if the right fit doesn’t emerge.
“We’re not going to sign somebody just to sign him and fill a scholarship,” Boyle said.
CU’s head coach admitted losing a player that had been in the program for three years like Fletcher always is a disappointment, but the junior saw his playing time decrease over the season’s final 10 games. That trend likely would have continued next season, with the Buffs losing two rotation players (Scott, Xavier Talton) yet adding four more with the injury return of Xavier Johnson, the addition of transfer Derrick White, and the arrival of freshmen guards Bryce Peters and Deleon Brown.
“I think Tre’Shaun felt his minutes were a little bit squeezed this year,” Boyle said. “I think he wants a little bigger role. He wants a new beginning, kind of a new start. Any time a player goes through their junior year and leaves it’s a little disappointing, but every player has to make decisions that are best for themselves. This was a difficult decision for Tre’Shaun, no doubt.
“They’re both leaving on good terms and I love them both. There’s no hard feelings.”
Boyle said Guzonjic, who appeared in just 13 games in his lone season at CU, planned to continue pursuing opportunities in college basketball rather than return to his native Bosnia.
CU made its commitment to playing in next season’s Legends Classic official on Thursday. The Buffs will host one of four teams — Louisiana-Monroe, Eastern Washington, Bryant or Seattle — before traveling to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to play games on Nov. 21 and 22 in a field that will include Notre Dame, Texas, and Northwestern. The games at the Barclays Center will be televised by the ESPN networks. The matchups will be announced later.