When the college basketball season met its abrupt and unprecedented end, Tyler Bey still wasn’t certain what the future held.
While at this point the same can be said for the bulk of the country on lockdown due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Bey has at least settled on a path for his professional future. And, according to Colorado coach Tad Boyle, that future does not include a return to CU.
On Sunday night, Bey announced via his Twitter account that he would be entering the NBA draft. The announcement hardly was unexpected, yet one nuance that was conspicuously absent — and one that was included in a similar Twitter announcement made by teammate McKinley Wright IV days earlier — was any notion that Bey would keep his options open about a possible return to college basketball.
On Monday, Boyle confirmed that, while there could be a late change of mind, Bey likely has played his final game for the Buffaloes.
“From my standpoint, I don’t think Tyler is going to be coming back to school,” Boyle said. “That’s where he’s at mentally in conversations with him. Those things change. It’s a pretty fluid situation. But from my standpoint and in my conversations with him, I don’t expect him back.
“It’s evolved. It’s fluid, as all of our minds are right now. His is no different. I do think in terms of where his mind is, he’s wanting to turn to professional basketball.”
Bey made a lasting impact in his three seasons at CU, joining the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and amassing 87 starts in three years, a total that ranks 16th in program history.
Bey enters the draft ranked eighth all-time at CU in total rebounds (800) and 28th in scoring (1,113). His career .530 field goal percentage is tied for 10th all-time, and his 31 career double-doubles ties Ken Charlton for the ninth-most in program history.
Bey was a first team All-Pac-12 selection in 2018-19 and a second team honoree this past season. He won the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year honor, joining Andre Roberson as the only CU players to win that award. Bey also ranks among CU’s all-time leaders in blocked shots (102, 10th) and steals (98, tied for 21st).
Bey will be the fourth player in the 10-year Boyle era to leave CU early for the draft, joining Alec Burks, Andre Roberson, and Spencer Dinwiddie. Most mock drafts have Bey pegged as a mid-to-late second round pick.
“He had a good three-year career,” Boyle said. “It’s interesting, as you look at record books in men’s basketball, you almost have to go by seasons than career. He went over 1,000 points this year, and over 750 rebounds, which are big milestones. But it’s hard to compare eras when some guys are playing two years or three years, and guys in the past played four. I just know Tyler got better every year that he was in our program, which is something we look for. He had a terrific year this year. He had some really terrific games and moments for us.
“He had a good three years and helped our program get better. The thing I think will always stick in my mind is that he never got a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. He would have this year, but obviously it didn’t happen.”
Bey’s departure opens up a third scholarship for Boyle to work with this spring, following the postseason announcements by Jakub Dombek and Daylen Kountz that they will be transferring out of CU’s program. Using one of those spots for immediate frontcourt help will be a priority, with the Buffs still in the mix for Phoenix-area forward Jabari Walker. Beyond filling that void, the Buffs seemingly are set for their 2020-21 rotation, giving Boyle and his staff the flexibility to add the best available talent instead of possibly settling for players in order to fulfill immediate needs.
That, of course, is assuming CU’s other draft-eligible junior, Wright, ultimately decides to return to CU. The standout point guard made a point of including the option of returning to school in his Twitter announcement, and Boyle remains confident Wright will receive honest feedback during the pre-draft process.
“I think the whole idea of this testing the waters thing is to allow college players to get feedback,” Boyle said. “You just want to make sure that the feedback that they’re getting is legitimate feedback, and honest feedback, and real feedback. McKinley is intelligent enough to understand where he is and where his game is. Certainly he wants his future to be in the NBA, as we all do. I think McKinley is taking a little different approach than what Tyler’s taking, and the feedback he’s getting might be different than what Tyler is getting. But I feel confident about McKinley making a good decision.”