Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Decision time is looming for Tory Miller-Stewart.
With the Colorado men’s basketball team back on campus to prepare for its Pac-12 Conference opener Friday night at Oregon State, one notable absence is Miller-Stewart. The injured senior is scheduled to remain with his family until at least the end of the Buffaloes’ trip to Oregon, and when he returns discussions will begin in earnest with CU head coach Tad Boyle regarding Miller-Stewart’s basketball future.
After starting the first six games of the year, Miller-Stewart suffered an injury that will rob the 6-foot-9 forward of the remainder of his senior season. Boyle previously stated any discussions regarding Miller-Stewart’s future wouldn’t happen until after the first semester final exams, but any final decision regarding whether Miller-Stewart returns to the Buffs for a fifth season or moves on to pursue other options may not occur until February.
“We visited a little before he left and we’ll visit again when he comes back,” Boyle said. “We’ll see where that’s at. He doesn’t have to make a decision soon, but I’m hoping by February or March.”
Given he played only six games, Miller-Stewart remains eligible to apply for a a fifth season of eligibility, a process that would not begin until the 2017-18 season is complete. Additionally, Boyle signed only two players for the projected three scholarships available for the 2018-19 season — Elijah Parquet and Denver East’s Daylen Kountz — so there still is a scholarship available for Miller-Stewart if he opts to return.
Boyle previously stated the Buffs would be in search of a big man with that open scholarship, and on Wednesday he clarified that if Miller-Stewart wants to return, that open spot is his. However, other factors could force Miller-Stewart to mull his options, particularly with his graduation pending in May. With Evan Battey set to play a prominent role in the frontcourt next year and 7-foot freshman Dallas Walton improving rapidly, Miller-Stewart could use the graduate transfer rule to move along and play immediately elsewhere.
A player who has played 101 career games and posted a .667 field goal percentage (12-for-18) before getting injured likely will be a better fit for the Buffs next year than a player Boyle might land on the open market, either as a transfer or a late signee like freshman guard McKinley Wright last spring. However, Miller-Stewart’s potential role in 2018-19 might not be quite as prominent with Battey biding his time during a redshirt season.
“Tory’s decision will be Tory’s decision,” Boyle said. “I’m being very frank and honest with him about every situation. It’s no different than when the season’s over with and I have my individual meeting with every player. From the months of October through March, every decision I make is with the program’s best interest at heart. And that might come at the expense of an individual player or two. Those decisions that I make in April through September is for the individual player and what is best for them in their situation.
“It’s no different with Tory now because Tory’s season is over with. We’re faced with that kind of discussion in December or January or February whereas normally we’d have that decision in April. He’s a senior, he does have his redshirt option available to him. He’s going to graduate in May, so he’s got the graduate (transfer) option available to him. All options are on the table.”