TUCSON, Ariz. — For the foreseeable future, and perhaps the remainder of the season, the Colorado men’s basketball team will compete without the player considered the club’s top perimeter defender.
Following Thursday’s 64-56 loss at Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference opener, head coach Tad Boyle finally clarified the mystery surrounding Deleon Brown, confirming the junior guard has been ruled academically ineligible for the second semester.
Brown dressed but did not play in the Buffs’ final two games at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over the holidays and did not make the trip to Arizona. Technically, Brown still is eligible through next week’s home dates against Washington State and Washington, but Boyle said Brown needs to work his way out of his academic issues before he once again can attempt to help the Buffaloes on the floor.
“He’s out indefinitely until he gets that taken care of,” Boyle said. “It’s up to Deleon and he has some work cut out for him. But he’s got the opportunity and the possibility of coming back this year, but we don’t know when that’s going to be. And we don’t know if that’s going to happen. But it’s not in the foreseeable future.
“I haven’t made a final decision on Deleon and what his future is in the program. He’s got to take care of his academics before he’s going to have a chance to play basketball at the University of Colorado.”
Boyle also confirmed it was the academic issue that kept Brown out of the season opener against Drake, which at the time CU’s coach described as a coach’s decision. Brown played in the Buffs’ opening game of the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 22 against Indiana State, yet by the next day some of his first semester grades were posted, and Boyle opted to keep Brown on the bench against Hawaii and Charlotte.
Brown was shooting just .352 and averaging 4.1 points off the bench in nine games, but he is considered the team’s best perimeter defender and gave Boyle a veteran option as a backup point guard to spell McKinley Wright. His absence likely will mean bigger minutes for freshman guard Daylen Kountz, with Shane Gatling also possibly assuming more ball-handling duties when Wright isn’t on the floor.
Boyle said it was the first time in 25 years as a college coach he has had to deal with a midseason academic issue with one of his players.
“We lose a guy that has some experience, we lose one of our best perimeter defenders. We lose a lot but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Boyle said. “I can’t preach doing things right, and then play him over guys that are doing that. I care about winning. Of course I care about winning. But not at the expense of getting these guys a college education.”
The Buffaloes dug themselves an insurmountable hole in the first half, and early foul trouble on Lucas Siewert and Tyler Bey played a major factor. Siewert picked up his second foul just 3 minutes, 35 seconds into the game and remained on the bench until a token appearance late in the first half. He managed to finish with 11 points and four rebounds despite his extended stay on the bench.
Bey was charged with an offensive foul just 43 seconds into the game and went to the bench for the remainder of the first half after getting his second foul at the 9:23 mark. Bey remained on the bench for the rest of the first half but still finished with a team-best 11 rebounds, posting his seventh double-digit rebounding effort of this season.
When Bey went to the bench the Buffs trailed just 14-13. Arizona outscored CU 25-11 over the rest of the first half.
“It’s pretty frustrating, but at the end of the day that’s not going to do anything,” Siewert said. “I have to keep my head in the game, and as frustrating it is I have to find another way to help the team win.”
CU freshman Eli Parquet entered the game with two blocked shots this season but recorded two in 11 minutes against the Wildcats…Former UA standout Deandre Ayton, the 2018 Pac-12 Player of the Year and last year’s top overall pick in the NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, was honored at halftime for his induction into Arizona’s Ring of Fame…CU sophomore D’Shawn Schwartz recorded a career-best eight rebounds. He also was the only Buffs player to finish with more assists (two) than turnovers (none).