Daylen Kountz attacked bigger role with same vigor as attacking basket for CU Buffs

  • Ethan Miller / Getty Images

    Colorado freshman Daylen Kountz finished the season with more assists than turnovers.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Daylen Kountz, right, averaged 5.6 points with a .430 mark from the field this season.

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The Kountz file

The lowdown: 6-4 freshman guard, Denver.

Key stats: 5.6 ppg, .430 field goal percentage.

Strengths: Attacking the basket, court vision (46 assists).

Weaknesses: 3-point shooting (.308), rebounding (1.4 rpg).

(This is the first in a series of nine BuffZone.com profiles reviewing the rotation players for the 2018-19 Colorado men’s basketball team.)

Daylen Kountz left plenty of room for improvement after his first season with the University of Colorado men’s basketball team.

Yet the 6-foot-4 guard from Denver East also can be counted as a pleasant surprise for the Buffaloes during the 2018-19 season, a player who consistently attacked the basket with the same confidence he used to attack the challenges of an unexpectedly larger role.

Kountz evolved from a player whose contributions might have been counted as a bonus in November and December to one whose contributions were indispensible during a late run of 12 wins in 15 games that changed the entire complexion of the Buffs’ season.

Kountz averaged just 8.8 minutes per game through the season’s first 10 games, but immediately became a bigger fixture in the rotation after junior guard Deleon Brown was ruled academically ineligible. That role grew even bigger in January when the Buffs’ lone senior, Namon Wright, was lost to a season-ending foot injury.

Kountz averaged 20.5 minutes the rest of the way, finishing his rookie year averaging 5.6 points with a .430 mark from the field. He posted six double-digit scoring efforts, topping out with 13 during a road loss at Utah on Jan. 20 and scoring 12 points in a 4-for-4 performance when CU salvaged a win at the Diamond Head Classic against Hawaii.

Unlike many young players, Kountz preferred attacking the basket over settling for 3-pointers. Among his season highlights was a two-game sequence at the Pac-12 Conference tournament that saw Kountz turn three steals into breakaway dunks, and he averaged 8.3 points during CU’s three games in the NIT. Kountz also displayed solid poise for a freshman, finishing the season with more assists (46) than turnovers (41).

Much like the class ahead of him highlighted by McKinley Wright, Tyler Bey, and D’Shawn Schwartz, Kountz will be tasked with making a significant jump from his freshman season to his sophomore year. Kountz improved tremendously on defense over the course of the season, but those strides will need to continue if Kountz hopes to challenge for a starting spot. Kountz should be able to improve on his .308 mark on 3-pointers, and he is a better shooter than evidenced by his .646 free throw percentage.

Kountz’s ability to rebound wasn’t a huge priority for the Buffs this season — Bey set the pace on the glass, while Wright and Schwartz were more polished perimeter rebounders — but chances are one of Boyle’s first offseason challenges for the freshman guard will to improve on his rebounding average of 1.4.

Kountz played with a confidence and, at times, even a swagger that belied his status as a freshman. If he is able to turn that confidence into improving his biggest shortcomings in the offseason (3-point shooting, rebounding), Kountz’s role will continue to expand.

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