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3-point drought helped CU Buffs’ D’Shawn Schwartz to expand game

Colorado Springs native eyeing big junior season

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz shot .383 (18-for-47) from 3-point range as a freshman, but that mark dipped to .313 last season, albeit in nearly three times as many attempts (41-for-131).
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Obviously, D’Shawn Schwartz would have preferred to see a few more 3-point shots go down during the 2018-19 basketball season.

The 3-point prowess Schwartz displayed a year earlier as a freshman with the Colorado Buffaloes was largely absent throughout his sophomore season, with a few notable and important exceptions. Yet if necessity is the mother of invention — or, in Schwartz’s case, perhaps re-invention — the Colorado Springs native made the most of those long-range struggles.

With the most reliable weapon in his offensive arsenal no longer so reliable, Schwartz was forced to find other ways to contribute to the Buffs’ offense. In turn, the 6-foot-7 wing player gradually showcased more of the versatile and dynamic skills head coach Tad Boyle and his staff had been trying to coax out of him since he arrived in Boulder.

“I still had to find ways to get some buckets, so I was attacking a little bit more,” Schwartz said. “This year I’ve been working off ball screens a little bit more and making some good plays. I think I’ve gained some confidence in that area. I think there’s a lot of ways I can score and I think I’m ready to bring it out this year.”

Schwartz shot .383 (18-for-47) from 3-point range as a freshman, but that mark dipped to .313 last season, albeit in nearly three times as many attempts (41-for-131). Certainly Schwartz had his moments from long range — he went 6-for-9 during the regular season against the Pac-12’s top team, defensive-minded Washington, and he knocked down a career-best five 3-pointers to help spark CU’s win against Dayton in the first round of the NIT.

More often than not, though, Schwartz experienced frustration from the arc. Yet as the season wore on he was able to adjust, as perhaps evidenced by his performance in the Buffs’ final regular season homestand that featured wins against Utah, UCLA, and USC.  Schwartz was just 3-for-13 on 3-pointers in those games, yet he still averaged 13 points and five rebounds while posting a .483 overall mark from the floor (14-for-29). Schwartz also went 8-for-10 at the free throw line in those three games.

“I really didn’t shoot the ball anywhere near as well as I wanted to,” Schwartz said. “Obviously, statistically it wasn’t as good as my freshman year. I definitely want to make sure I’m a knock-down shooter this year. It’s something I’ve really been working on, changing the mechanics a little bit of my shot. That’s really been my focus.”

Like many of his teammates, Schwartz is attempting to build on his late-season momentum this summer. Boyle reports that Schwartz continues to make meaningful strides in the weight room, and chances are Schwartz’s 3-point percentage won’t hover at 31 percent again, even with college basketball’s 3-point line getting pushed back to the international distance of 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches.

“D’Shawn has had a great summer so far,” Boyle said. “Physically, you can see and tell his body is coming into its own. He looks good, he feels good, his strength is good. I think the biggest thing I’ve challenged D’Shawn with is just play aggressively and force his will on the game. We’ve had some one-on-one matches for the team in a couple of workouts, and he’s won his fair share of them. He’s a guy that I think can take the next step next year as he goes from an underclassman to an upperclassman.”