Tad Boyle has grown accustomed to meeting young basketball players intent on reaping instant rewards in college basketball.
That’s not at a knock on the future stars of today. The game always changes. Yet it remains a stark departure from the developmental long view common when Boyle was a player more than 30 years ago, or even when he began his Colorado coaching tenure a decade ago.
So when Canadian guard Keeshawn Barthelemy informed Boyle he not only was willing to reclassify into the 2019 recruiting class, but was willing to take a redshirt season in order to prepare for basketball at the Pac-12 Conference level, the match between player and program became a perfect fit.
After a whirlwind of activity in recent weeks, CU has officially landed Barthelemy, a four-star, 6-foot-2 guard out of Ontario. The plan is for Barthelemy to redshirt during the 2019-20 season with an eye on contributing immediately in 2020-21.
Though he will be a week behind, Barthelemy is scheduled to begin classes Tuesday.
“We’ve been recruiting him since the spring, and we were pretty up front saying we didn’t really need a guard for the 2019 (class). We feel like our team is pretty well set right now for the incoming season,” Boyle said. “But if he was going to go to prep school, which is what he was planning on doing…we definitely were going to recruit him for the 2020 class, because we’re going to need probably a couple guards in that class.
“As time got closer I think Keeshawn and his family realized that if he came to a place like Colorado and was able to compete for a year, he’s going to improve a lot more with our strength coach here and our nutrition program and all the things we’re able to offer. He’ll be much, much better off as he moves forward in his career.”
Boyle conveniently still had an open scholarship to work with for the 2019-20 season, following the graduation of Namon Wright and the loss of Deleon Brown, who left the program after spending most of his junior season on the sideline due to academic issues. The Buffs filled one of those slots with the addition of 6-foot-6 junior college transfer Maddox Daniels.
With the November signing date looming for the 2020 class, the Buffs will have two certain spots to fill to replace 2019-20 seniors Lucas Siewert and Shane Gatling. Columbine guard Luke O’Brien already has pledged a verbal commitment for one of those spots, but don’t be surprised if the Buffs sign more than two players in November. Junior forward Tyler Bey is projected as a first-round pick, and rare is the spring that passes without unexpected roster defections.
As one possible example, forward Alex Strating, a valuable role player during CU’s late-season surge last spring, might see his frontcourt rotation spot reduced with the return of 7-footer Dallas Walton from injury and the debut of 6-foot-11 Jakub Dombek, who redshirted last season. Strating will graduate this year and would be eligible immediately elsewhere as a graduate transfer is he chooses that option.
As for Barthelemy, Boyle said gaining weight will be the new guard’s first priority — “I don’t think he’s 170 pounds,” said Boyle, “we need to put him on the scale,” — but the rookie could be the heir apparent at point guard for McKinley Wright, who also could go pro if he produces a strong junior season.
“(Barthelemy) is a really talented player that can score the ball, can handle the ball, can pass the ball. He’s a good player,” Boyle said. “I try not to pigeon-hole kids and put kids in boxes, like you’re a point guard or you’re a two-guard. We just want basketball players that can play with other basketball players. And that’s what Keeshawn is. He’s got great speed and great change-of-direction, and he can really shoot the ball.
“We would have had to battle a lot of other schools to get him in 2020. I’m just really thankful and appreciative that his family saw the big picture.”
The Buffs open preseason practices Sept. 27.