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Former Denver East star Daylen Kountz opts to leave CU Buffs

Sophomore guard is second postseason departure from Tad Boyle’s program

Sophomore guard Daylen Kountz, a former star at Denver East, has opted to leave the Buffaloes program.
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Sophomore guard Daylen Kountz, a former star at Denver East, has opted to leave the Buffaloes program. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Hours after Jakub Dombek entered the NCAA transfer portal, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle said “there might be one more” roster defection from his squad this spring.

That additional player turned out to be Daylen Kountz, and the homestate recruit has indeed opted to leave the Buffaloes.

On Friday night, the sophomore guard announced via his Twitter account his intention to transfer after two seasons at CU. Kountz’s departure, along with Dombek’s, gives Boyle two open scholarships to work with during the spring recruiting period.

Among the many in-state recruits landed by Boyle during his 10-year tenure at CU, Kountz becomes the first to transfer out of the Buffs program. The former Denver East standout stirred enthusiasm with a strong finish to his freshman season a year ago, but his announcement Friday night capped a 2019-20 campaign in which Kountz struggled from the opening tip.

“Sophomore years are sometimes kind of telling,” Boyle told BuffZone in an interview conducted prior to Kountz’s announcement. “You’ve heard of the sophomore slump, and maybe Daylen experienced a little bit of that. He struggled with his shot. And he struggled to finish, which is something as a freshman he did a great job of — finishing in the lane and finishing at the rim. For whatever reason he had trouble doing that this year.

“Everyone knows that he’s capable of playing better than he did this year. Daylen knows that, I know that. It was a rough year.”

Kountz enjoyed several clutch performances off the bench down the stretch of his freshman season a year ago, going 3-for-5 with eight points in a low-scoring win against Cal to open the Pac-12 Conference tournament before contributing 10 points in a win against Norfolk State in the second round of the NIT.

Following that late surge, Kountz was expected to be a key piece of the 2019-20 Buffs, and he started the first five games of the season. But after going 5-for-25 in those five games, Boyle returned Kountz to the bench, and the sophomore guard never got on track. By the end of the season Kountz was logging minimal minutes off the bench in spot duty relieving McKinley Wright IV at point guard.

Kountz recorded six double-digit scoring efforts as a freshman but posted just two this past season. His shooting percentage dipped from .430 as a freshman to .333 this year. After shooting .308 from 3-point range last year with 46 assists against 41 turnovers, Kountz was just 4-for-26 on 3-pointers this year with 20 assists and 32 turnovers.

After being supplanted by fellow sophomore Eli Parquet in the guard rotation, Kountz was facing the possibility of falling further down the list of wing options with Keeshawn Barthelemy emerging from his redshirt season along with the addition of incoming freshman Dominique Clifford.

Boyle now has the opportunity to replace two minimal contributors — Dombek and Kountz — with fresh options that could bolster the Buffs’ overall depth. One of those open scholarships almost assuredly will be used on a frontcourt prospect with immediate eligibility as a possible replacement for junior forward Tyler Bey, who is exploring his pro options. Assuming Wright returns for his senior season, Boyle might have the luxury of being picky with the other open spot, regardless of Bey’s ultimate decision.