(Note: This is the first of a series of player reviews from the CU men’s basketball team for the 2019-20 season).
Tad Boyle wasn’t exactly tempted to take the redshirt off Keeshawn Barthelemy down the stretch of this past season. Trading a few games for an entire season of eligibility was an equation that never made sense.
Yet as he watched his team struggle over the final four weeks, especially whenever point guard McKinley Wright IV wasn’t on the floor, it wasn’t difficult to daydream about the temporary relief Barthelemy could have provided.
Boyle, of course, resisted temptation, and after a year on the sideline getting acclimated to college basketball life in America, Barthelemy is poised to become a key figure in the backcourt rotation in 2020-21.
A late signee out of Montreal last summer just before the school year began, Barthelemy provided a steady practice foil for Wright throughout the season while making much-needed gains with strength and conditioning coach Steve Englehart in the weight room.
“Keeshawn’s situation is just so unusual, and it starts with his recruiting. How quickly it happened, and the decisions that were made in a very, very short amount of time,” Boyle said. “That was back in July and August when those conversations were happening, versus now, here it is in March, and he’s had a very, very good year in the weight room. He’s had a great year on the practice court. He twisted his ankle and was out about three weeks towards the end. But he came back the last week or so at practice and was his old self.
“From a basketball standpoint and in terms of how he’s progressed in the weight room with his strength and training with coach Englehart, he’s had a terrific year. I expect him to be a guy that can step in next year and play right away and have a significant impact on next year’s team. Looking backwards, he would have helped us at the end.”
The 6-foot-2 Barthelemy was the only true point guard on CU’s roster besides Wright, and throughout the year Shane Gatling and Daylen Kountz, both natural two-guards, struggled to pick up the slack when Wright wasn’t on the floor.
Wright is expecting to test the NBA draft waters. However, given his name doesn’t appear on the most credible of mock 2020 drafts, Wright likely will return to CU for his senior season. Barthelemy running the show as the point may not occur until the 2021-22 season, yet Boyle already is eager to pair Wright and Barthelemy on the floor at the same time.
And if Wright does opt to leave, the point guard of the future already is on the roster and ready to go.
“They can play together. And they’re very good together. And they like playing together,” Boyle said. “Keeshawn could have taken a lot of pressure of McKinley. Because there was a lot of pressure on McKinley at the end to make every play and score the ball. McKinley and I talked about that in our year-end meeting. We’ll see what happens obviously, but Keeshawn will be ready to contribute next year from day one.”