Tryouts underway to find CU men’s basketball backup point guard

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado junior Deleon Brown shoots over McKinley Wright on Tuesday during the Buffs' first practice of the season.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Shane Gatling is in competition for the backup point guard job during preseason practice.



The Colorado men’s basketball team is set at point guard, with the Buffaloes’ offense already in the capable hands of sophomore McKinley Wright.

Yet even as head coach Tad Boyle admits, “Obviously we want McKinley to play as many minutes as he can,” Wright nonetheless will be unable to play all 40 minutes of every game. As the Buffs continue preseason workouts one of the few personnel issues that must be resolved before the Nov. 13 season opener against Drake is who will spell Wright at the point during the few occasions he gets a breather on the bench.

The first in line for those duties are junior Deleon Brown, junior college transfer Shane Gatling, and freshmen Daylen Kountz and Eli Parquet.

“That’s an unanswered question right now, but we’re looking at all of those guys for the ability to do that,” Boyle said. “(Wright) is going to need some breaks. We’re going to have to give him some rest. One of those three guys, and Deleon Brown is another one…Deleon is kind of that steady-Eddie guy.

“We’ll figure out roles. We’ll figure out who’s going to spell whom as the season unfolds.”

Last year, Boyle had the luxury of turning to senior Dom Collier as Wright’s backup at the point, a player who spent his sophomore season as the Buffs’ primary point guard.

No such obvious backup is on the roster this year. Gatling is being counted on primarily for his 3-point shot, though he did record 100 assists against 53 turnovers last year at Indian Hills Community College after struggling in that department in limited duty during his lone season at Niagara. Brown is a solid perimeter defender off the bench, but he has recorded just 36 assists in 54 games at CU.

Perhaps more intriguing is the potential of either Kountz or Parquet handling spot duty at the point. For either player, the ability to handle that role might be the pathway into the regular rotation.

“The one thing is to prove they can guard, that we’re not going to drop off defensively when they come in the game,” Boyle said. “Most freshmen, the biggest adjustment they have to make is at the defensive end of the floor going from high school to college. And then the second thing is offensively, taking care of the ball and understanding what’s a good shot and what’s not. The one thing freshmen find at this level is there’s a lot of things that they could do in high school, or in AAU ball, that they can’t do here. They have to figure that out as quickly as possible.”

Kountz often played with the ball in his hands at Denver East, and he also often juggled between the point and shooting guard roles for his club team. The same goes for Parquet, who also reported the fracture in his foot from last winter that limited him upon his arrival at CU this summer finally is 100 percent.

“I did both,” Parquet said. “I mainly played the two, but in crunch time I always played the one. I’m kind of used to it.”

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