AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post
AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post
Maybe it will be a necessary conversation further down the road, before the lights go on for the 2018-19 season and Daylen Kountz officially takes his place as the latest homegrown talent in coach Tad Boyle’s rotation.
Being from Colorado always intensifies the microscope a little bit when playing for the Buffaloes, adding another x-factor to what already is challenging transition from high school to college. Some, like former forward Josh Scott, were able to shrug off such pressure. Others like 2018 graduate Dom Collier — like Kountz, a product of Denver East — admitted that homegrown pressure felt like a bit of an anchor early in his career.
Maybe Kountz will feel additional pressure. Maybe he won’t. After arriving on campus this month to begin his first official workouts and begin summer school, Boyle just wants Kountz to focus on adapting to the college game.
“Daylen right now is an elite-level athlete,” Boyle said. “He’s very good in the open floor. Learning to play in the half court, learning to play without the ball, are going to be some areas where he’s going to have to adjust to and learn. But that’s what coming to college is all about. He’s a terrific talent.
“In the open floor, with his athleticism and ability to get to the rim, he’s pretty special. When he can’t do that, we’ve got to find other ways to make him effective. It’s very early in the process.”
Under Boyle homegrown Coloradoans have been a staple at CU, a group that includes former Buffs players like Scott, Wesley Gordon, Xavier Talton, Collier, and Derrick White, in addition to current guard D’Shawn Schwartz. Kountz is next in line, but he likely will have to adapt to a new style of play in order to make an immediate contribution.
Kountz had the ball in his hands frequently this past season while leading Denver East to a 21-4 record and a berth in the Class 5A Sweet 16. According to the Angels’ team page on MaxPreps.com, Kountz averaged 23.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. While Kountz brings a strong attack-the-basket mentality to Boulder, he will be challenged this summer to improve his 3-point shooting. Kountz’s overall field goal percentage of 52 percent was muted by a .284 mark (25-for-88) from long range during his senior season at East.
“It’s a good feeling to finally get up here and be with the team, and taking classes finally in college. Just getting used to workouts and practice every day and going to class in between,” Kountz said. “I can’t wait for the first home game. I can’t wait to come out of the tunnel and stuff like that. I’ve talked a little bit (with Boyle) about playing both sides of the ball, doing everything I can to be the best teammate I can for my team.
“Moving without the ball, doing things without the ball, getting my team involved. I’ve always been able to play off the ball. I really played a lot more on the ball this past year, but the last year I played off the ball. I’m kind of going back to what I’ve done before.”
The Buffs’ primary ball-handling duties once again will be in the capable hands of incumbent point guard McKinley Wright, with newly-arrived junior college guard Shane Gatling ready to provide 3-point punch and the versatility to spell Wright. Kountz’s ability to adjust defensively and knock down an open shot might ultimately dictate the depths of his contributions as a freshman.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement,” Kountz said. “We can’t wait to put all the pieces together and figure out what we do best.”