Tad Boyle open to adding football recruit La’Vontae Shenault to CU basketball program

Courtesy photo / La’Vontae Shenault
Colorado commit La’Vontae Shenault has expressed interest in playing basketball and football in Boulder.

LOS ANGELES — It remains unlikely the University of Colorado will see its first football-basketball dual-sport athlete in nearly 30 years. But count Tad Boyle in on at least exploring the possible addition of new CU Buffaloes football La’Vontae Shenault to the basketball roster.

This past week, the younger brother of star receiver Laviska Shenault made his pledge to the Buffs official on national signing day. He also raised eyebrows by saying he has the blessing of new football coach Mel Tucker to explore the option of playing basketball for the Buffs as well.

Boyle has not yet conversed with the younger Shenault or watched his basketball highlights. Yet Boyle had a succinct appraisal of the situation based on what he saw Laviska Shenault achieve on the gridiron this past fall.

“Put it this way — if his little brother can play basketball the way Laviska can play football, we’ll take him,” Boyle said.

Boyle said he has not had a football-basketball dual-sport athlete at any of his coaching stops, though he noted at Wichita State in the early 2000s there was one athlete who played basketball and baseball. The Buffs haven’t had a football player try his hand at basketball in nearly 30 years, since Alfred Williams and Ronnie Woolfork joined the basketball squad midway through the 1989-90 season after missing out on a possible national title with an Orange Bowl loss against Notre Dame.

Williams appeared in one basketball game that year, and Woolfork played in four. After avenging that Orange Bowl loss the next season while clinching the 1990 national championship, Williams never returned to the basketball court in order to focus on his upcoming NFL career. Williams originally wanted to play both sports much more than he actually did, and he doesn’t believe the physical grind of football would be a detriment to La’Vontae Shenault if he eventually chooses to begin his “offseason” on the basketball court.

“It’s not difficult. It’s probably something he’s done his whole life, so it’s not a big deal,” Williams said. “It was bittersweet for me, because I was asked to come to the University of Colorado to do both when I was a freshman. And I didn’t do it until (later). I wish I would’ve done it the way he’s doing it.”

All this remains conjecture, of course, until La’Vontae Shenault arrives on campus and eventually meets Boyle. Regardless of whether La’Vontae Shenault follows through on his hope for basketball as a hobby, football obviously will remain a priority. A four-star receiver, Shenault caught 73 passes for 953 yards and six touchdowns. He also recorded a punt return for a touchdown.

But La’Vontae Shenault also has said that basketball is his first love. And, more importantly, he said Tucker has given his blessing for those hoops highlights to get sent to Boyle to see what happens.

“We’ll see,” Boyle said. “I just heard about it. I haven’t talked to him, I haven’t seen anything. That’s something obviously we would talk about with coach Tucker. It’s a difficult thing to do academically. But we’ll see. I have great respect for Laviska. I don’t know the family, but he’s a heck of a football player and I’m glad we have his little brother on the football team. We’ll see about basketball as this thing unfolds.”

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07