Like his coaching colleagues around the country, Tad Boyle is stuck at home instead of racking up frequent flyer miles on the postseason recruiting trail.
And yet Colorado’s leader finds himself doing far more recruiting at this stage of the calendar than expected.
While off-campus travel by coaching staffs, as well as on-campus visits from recruits, are banned until at least April 15 as the NCAA does its part in the nationwide shutdown enacted in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, basketball coaches like Boyle have had to adapt to the new normal.
For recruiting, that means utilizing video conferencing technology like Zoom instead of traveling for meetings in recruits’ living rooms.
“What we’re starting to do is some Zoom meetings with recruits and their families, just trying to get that face time and connect that way,” Boyle said. “We definitely are finding different ways to connect and try to get creative. I’ve got a couple set up here (Thursday and Friday). Normally, if the season were over, this is where you’d be flying to a kid’s high school and sitting down with him face to face, and with the parents face to face. We’re trying to get that face time through technology.
“The first thing that was on our minds when this all kind of happened when we came back from Vegas was getting our players situated, making sure they were taken care of going to the online learning. Making sure they’re going to get food if they’re staying in town. And then this week we really turned to recruiting, spending a lot of time on the phone and making contacts with people on the telephone. I’ve spent more time recruiting here in the last week than I normally would have if we were hopefully getting ready to go to a Sweet 16 or whatever. If we would’ve gotten beat in the first weekend, we would’ve been recruiting our tails off right now anyway.”
Earlier this week, the Buffs were linked to a possible connection with Wichita State transfer Jamarius Burton, but BuffZone sources indicated that was an erroneous report. CU remains in the mix for 2020 forward prospect Jabari Walker out of Chandler, Ariz., who earlier this week announced via his Twitter account that his final three choices are down to CU, Cal, and St. Mary’s.
Boyle has two open scholarships to work with after redshirt freshman Jakub Dombek and sophomore Daylen Kountz entered the NCAA transfer portal following the season. There could be more, as juniors Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV are expected to test their NBA draft prospects, though it is likely that Wright returns to CU.
Waves are coming
For the first time in 14 years, the Buffs are set to play the Pepperdine Waves.
Boyle confirmed an announcement by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein that Pepperdine will be part of the Buffs’ 2020-21 home schedule. CU has not played the Waves since a home loss on Dec. 4, 2006.
Pepperdine went 16-16 this past season, losing to St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference quarterfinals. The matchup will be a homecoming of sorts for Pepperdine guard Colbey Ross, an Aurora native who played at Eaglecrest High School. Ross, a junior this past season, led Pepperdine with 20.5 points per game and 7.2 assists per game.
Given the Pac-12 Conference’s move to a 20-game league schedule next season, the Buffs’ nonconference slate already is starting to fill up. CU will host Kansas and Colorado State, and will play TCU in Las Vegas in the inaugural Pac-12 Coast to Coast Challenge. The Buffs also will play two games against either Butler, Wisconsin, or South Florida at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in November.
On Thursday, CU recruit Dominique Clifford from the Vanguard School in Colorado Springs was named Colorado’s Gatorade boy’s basketball Player of the Year. Clifford led the Coursers to a 22-3 record while averaging 26.3 points and 13.7 rebounds.