CU basketball player review: Tyler Bey

Standout campaign highlighted by Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honor

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Tyler Bey dunks over the Washington defenders during the Jan. 25, 2020 game in Boulder.

(Note: This is the fourth of a series of player reviews from the CU men’s basketball team for the 2019-20 season).

If the abrupt and dramatic end to the college basketball season signaled the end of Tyler Bey’s career at the University of Colorado, the junior forward did his best to leave a positive final impression.

While his teammates struggled through an 82-68 loss against Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament, Bey helped keep the reeling Buffaloes in the fight, going 6-for-9 from the field before finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds, and a pair of steals.

The result wasn’t one any great player scripts for his exit. Yet personally, it was the sort of effort Buffs fans have grown to expect from Bey over the past three seasons.

The junior forward is expected to test his NBA draft status over the next two months, though the uncertainty surrounding the NBA’s coronavirus-prompted hiatus has thrown the draft calendar into question. While Bey’s junior season probably was more of a repeat of his sophomore season rather than a dramatic step forward, the lofty bar Bey had established for himself still made the 2019-20 season a memorable one.

And if his time at CU is over, Bey’s name will be firmly entrenched among the program’s all-time best.

Bey finished the season averaging 13.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, with the latter figure counting as the top overall mark in the Pac-12 Conference. Bey shot .530 from the field and enjoyed a stellar year defensively with 36 blocked shots and a career-best 48 steals. Those numbers helped Bey become the second CU player to win the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

Bey posted 12 double-doubles, with his career total of 31 double-doubles tying Ken Charlton for the ninth-most in program history. He surpassed the 1,000-point mark during the year and finished the season with 1,113 points, which ranks 28th in CU history. Bey’s  800 career rebounds ranks eighth all-time, and he became just the seventh Buffs player to compile at least 1,000 points alongside at least 750 rebounds.

Bey also moved into the ranks of CU’s all-time defensive leaders, with his 98 career steals tied for 21st all-time and his 102 blocked shots ranking 10th. If Bey’s time at CU indeed is done, his career field goal percentage of .530 is tied for 10th all-time.

If there was a knock against Bey, and a shortcoming that might hurt his prospects at the next level, is that he often struggled against CU’s toughest opponents. In a loss at Kansas on Dec. 7, Bey managed just three shot attempts before finishing with five points. At Arizona on Jan. 18, Bey was held to nine points. And while he was a beast during CU’s Jan. 2 home win against Oregon, recording 15 points and 14 rebounds, Bey managed just four points in the rematch at Oregon on Feb. 13.

Still, that hardly prevented the postseason accolades from rolling in, as Bey backed his second team All-Pac-12 honor with the Defensive Player of the Year award and a spot on the All-Defensive team. The most credible of mock drafts have Bey listed as a mid-to-late second-round prospect in the NBA draft, though the ongoing pandemic crisis makes it unlikely he will be able to showcase his explosive athleticism at individual workouts.

And if Bey returns to Boulder? The Buffs will have ample opportunity to erase the late slide that marred an otherwise memorable 2019-20 season and make a run at the NCAA Tournament that was denied by this year’s tournament cancellation.