The writing was on the wall as far back as Nov. 3, when Deleon Brown sat out Colorado’s basketball exhibition game against Colorado Mines for what coach Tad Boyle described only as a coach’s decision.
It turned out Brown was battling academic woes that eventually cost him his eligibility and put his standing with the program on thin ice. The tenuous partnership finally was dissolved on Thursday, as Boyle announced that Brown will not return to CU for his senior season in 2019-20.
Brown previously had entered the NCAA transfer portal, but Boyle indicated Brown might still have academic work to catch up with before being qualified to transfer. The departure, long rumored but finally official, gives Boyle an open scholarship going into the summer for a team that already has its rotation intact.
“Deleon is not going to be coming back to our program next year,” Boyle said. “We wish him all the best in whatever his future holds.”
When the 6-foot-4 Brown and Bryce Peters signed with the Buffs in November 2015, Boyle lauded both recruits as potential 1,000-point scorers. Peters scored just 113 points in one season also marred by academic issues, while Brown finished with just 250 points after playing only nine games during his junior season.
Following the absence against Mines, Brown also sat out the 2018-19 season-opener against Drake before playing the next nine games. He scored a season-high eight points in a win on Dec. 11 at New Mexico that included a key long-distance 3-pointer at the first half buzzer, and he came off the bench in the Buffs’ next game against Indiana State on Dec. 22 in the first game of the Diamond Head Classic. It was his last in a CU uniform.
When the first semester grades arrived and Brown’s eventual fate was sealed, Boyle opted to keep Brown on the bench even though he remained eligible for the next six games until the start of the second semester.
Brown averaged 4.0 points in 63 career games, finishing with a .352 overall field goal percentage and a .313 mark on 3-pointers. He scored double-figure points six times, but just once in Pac-12 play — recording 10 points in a home win against Stanford on March 2, 2017. Brown scored a career-high 15 points against Fort Hays State early in his freshman season.
Throughout the season and even into the offseason, Boyle maintained the door remained open for a potential return by Brown. That door closed once the second semester grades became official.
“I didn’t put firm stipulations. I just wanted to see how he’s performing, given he did not have basketball demands on him the second semester,” Boyle said. “I just didn’t feel like he made the strides either he or I expected him to make. Given that, it’s one of those situations where it’s time for him to move on. It’s time for us to move on. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Boyle said any additions to the roster this summer will be made with an eye toward the 2020-21 season. After reaching the NIT quarterfinals and finishing the season on a 12-4 run, CU doesn’t have an immediate need in the rotation, so a traditional transfer that must sit out a season remains a viable option.
Boyle also didn’t rule out going into the 2019-20 season still with that scholarship at his disposal, opening the door for midseason transfers or an option on next year’s transfer market. Boyle was in an identical situation this past season, eventually signing junior college guard Maddox Daniels.
“I feel very good about next year’s roster, where it stands and the guys we have coming back,” Boyle said. “It’s just imperative that we have great summers in the weight room and have a great summer in the gym working on skill development. If a transfer comes along we feel will fit the bill, we will certainly continue to stay in that market. But it most likely will be a sit-out guy if we took somebody. If not, we’ve got another one in our pocket for 2020.”