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‘Unfinished business’ keeping CU basketball’s Tyler Bey out of draft pool

Colorado''s Tyler Bey, right, said he never heavily considered leaving the Buffs after his sophomore season to pursue the NBA after leading the team in scoring average (13.6 points) and rebounds (9.9).
Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Colorado”s Tyler Bey, right, said he never heavily considered leaving the Buffs after his sophomore season to pursue the NBA after leading the team in scoring average (13.6 points) and rebounds (9.9).

As he emerged rapidly into one of the most electric players in the Pac-12 Conference over the final two months of the basketball season, it was easy to wonder just how long Colorado sophomore Tyler Bey might remain in Boulder.

Bey’s skills no doubt can translate well to the next level. The long, highly athletic, 6-foot-7 forward just won’t explore that option until at least next year. Bey said he never gave serious consideration to leaving CU this year or even testing the NBA pre-draft process, a path that would allow Bey to get expansive feedback on his NBA prospects while leaving the door open for returning to CU for his junior season.

CU head coach Tad Boyle said both Bey and sophomore point guard McKinley Wright sought feedback from the NBA Advisory Committee, while Bey also held frank discussions with his family and mentors before ultimately deciding the time wasn’t yet right for the next step of his basketball career.

“We talked about where I am today, where I want to be and what can I accomplish,” Bey said. “I feel like I have unfinished business here. I feel like I can do so much better. This summer will be huge in terms of me getting better. I want to take advantage of this summer. I’m working every day to take it to the next level. I want to get better and be a whole different Tyler Bey.”

Bey posted team-leading totals of 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds, using a torrid late-season push to earn first team All-Pac-12 honors while also becoming the second CU player in four seasons to win the league’s Most Improved Player award.

While Wright’s potential pro aspirations were limited anyway due to left shoulder surgery he endured immediately after the season, Bey said he did not receive a promising outlook from the advisory committee regarding his 2019 draft prospects. However, projects Bey as a mid-first round pick in 2020.

“I’ve had conversations with both Tyler and McKinley, and we’ve gone through the process with the undergraduate advisory committee, getting the feedback from them,” Boyle said. “I certainly think there were some thoughts on it. Right now, (Bey) is concerned with our offseason program, conditioning and working out. McKinley obviously is hampered because of his shoulder. It’s more of gaining information from the NBA undergraduate advisory council is where both those guys are at right now.”

Perhaps the biggest remaining obstacle in Bey’s NBA dreams is the need to put together a full season the way he played over the final two months this winter for the Buffs. A mid-game benching in a home loss against Oregon State on Jan. 31 seemingly lit a fire in Bey, who afterward posted 11 double-doubles over the final 16 games, averaging 16.0 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting .562 from the floor during that span.

Bey certainly can improve on certain aspects of his game — further refining on a mid-range jumper that improved down the stretch springs to mind — but an entire junior season that resembles the final two months this past season likely will lead to a much more encouraging outlook for Bey from the advisory committee next year.

“It really motivates me to take it to the next level, because I really want to be there,” Bey said. “They gave me a percentage of me being drafted, and it was something I didn’t want. My teammates want the best opportunity for me, but I feel like we’re going to be great next year. I can’t wait to get back on the floor with this team.”

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