Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Three of the four seniors set to be honored at the Colorado Buffaloes’ final regular season home game Saturday have combined to play in six NCAA Tournament games. Since Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson arrived as true freshmen for the 2012-13 season, the CU program has posted three 20-win seasons with a chance still remaining for a fourth.
It was an unusual route to boast four fifth-year seniors on the same roster, with each player taking a redshirt season along the way while welcoming transfers like Josh Fortune (Providence) and Derrick White (UCCS). A look at each player’s CU career.
G Josh Fortune (Hampton, Va.)
The 3-point ace could never get on track this season after posting a .385 mark from long range last season — his first with CU after seven points in 69 games over two seasons with Providence. Fortune’s 3-point percentage dipped to .300 after going 0-for-4 in Thursday’s win against Stanford, and he was relegated to a bench role after starting the first 16 games of the season. However, head coach Tad Boyle has consistently praised the maturity Fortune has displayed while handling the demotion, and he still has provided the occasional spark off the bench. Fortune surpassed the 1,000-point mark in his career while going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers Feb. 18 at Oregon, and he is the Buffs’ leading free throw shooter at 86 percent (43-for-50).
F Wesley Gordon (Colorado Springs)
The last Coloradoan remaining from a homegrown-heavy 2012-13 freshman class, Gordon enters his final home game having connected on his past eight field goal attempts. After a strong start on the glass this season Gordon’s pace waned in Pac-12 Conference play, falling into a share for the team rebounding lead at 6.8 per game. While Gordon’s career has been marked by hot-and-cold streaks, he undoubtedly has been a warrior, appearing in 127 games (sixth all-time at CU) and making 118 starts (fourth all-time). Gordon ranks sixth all-time in rebounds (868) and second in blocked shots, needing just three more to become the second CU player to record 200 in his career. Gordon was an honorable mention Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selection a year ago.
F/G Xavier Johnson (Los Angeles)
After missing what was supposed to be his senior season in 2015-16 due to a torn Achilles tendon, Johnson returned this season as a solid inside-outside scoring threat. CU’s second-leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, Johnson posted two double-doubles this season, matching a career-high with 27 points along with 12 rebounds against Wofford and posting 24 points and 11 rebounds at Washington. Johnson has topped 20 points five times this season, surpassing the 1,000-point mark in his career in the second game of the season against Seattle. Johnson ranks 12th all-time at CU in scoring (1,392) and 13th in rebounds (682).
G Derrick White (Parker)
A one-year wonder after transferring to CU from Division II UCCS, White put together the sort of superb season that has left fans longing for more than just a single year of White in a Buffaloes jersey. White leads the Buffs in scoring (17.0) and assists (4.3) while shooting an impressive .509 (172-for-338) from the field. His 511 points this season ranks as the 25th-best single-season mark in program history (a list he still is likely to climb), and he is tied with Marcus Hall’s 2007-08 total of 128 assists for the 16th-best single-season mark in CU history. White has reached 20 points 12 times with a pair of 30-point games — he went 12-for-12 on free throws in a 35-point game at Arizona State and knocked down a season-most four 3-pointers in a 31-point effort last week against Utah.