(Note: This is the sixth of a series of player reviews from the CU men’s basketball team for the 2019-20 season).
It was his silky smooth, left-handed jumper that provided the Colorado Buffaloes and their fans with the biggest thrill of the 2019-20 season. He also was the one Buffs player who suffered the sort of prolonged slump — and one that occurred at the most inopportune time of the season — that was almost impossible to explain.
A season of high expectations proved to be an up-and-down ride for the Buffs, and no one experienced as high of highs or as low of lows as D’Shawn Schwartz.
From the outset of the season, the junior from Colorado Springs was described as an X-factor for CU, a player whose versatile scoring ability could give the Buffs a consistent third scoring option behind McKinley Wright IV and Tyler Bey. That description held true. When Schwartz was good, the Buffs were great. But when Schwartz struggled, more often than not CU did as well.
For the first two months of the season, Schwartz was dropping 3-pointers at a historic rate, as he shot .483 from the arc in 13 nonconference games to make an early statement he might make a charge at Levi Knutson’s single-season record of .474 set in 2010-11. That run was capped by a 5-for-7 showing on 3-pointers in the thrilling overtime win against Dayton in Chicago, with the last of those 3s coming at the buzzer to set off a jubilant Buffs celebration, and a 4-for-6 outing against Iona.
Schwartz suffered what probably was a predictable dip once Pac-12 Conference play started, yet after consecutive 3-for-5 efforts from the arc against Stanford and Oregon in early February, Schwartz still sported a 3-point percentage of .414. However, the wheels soon fell off for Schwartz in abrupt and dramatic fashion.
In a win at Oregon State on Feb. 15, Schwartz was held scoreless while going 0-for-8 overall and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. Schwartz also suffered a fracture above the bridge of his nose against the Beavers. Yet if the injury affected him down the stretch, it didn’t show in the next game, as he knocked down three 3-pointers in a win against USC that proved to be the Buffs’ final victory of the season.
From there, though, Schwartz struggled. He endured another scoreless outing in a loss at Cal on Feb. 27 and was held to two points a week later in an overtime loss at Utah. By the time the Buffs lost to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament, Schwartz looked like a player grasping to the last shreds of his confidence, as he went 0-for-4 at the free throw line in another two-point outing.
Schwartz averaged 9.8 points on the season, and through the first 25 games of the season he was held to two points or less just once. Schwartz suffered four such outings over the final seven games, and he went 2-for-19 on 3-pointers in the final five games.
Schwartz’s overall field goal percentage dipped from .436 as a sophomore to .405 this year in a similar number of attempts. Schwartz also experienced a slide at the free throw line (.778 last year, .676 this year), though he once again posted a solid assist-to-turnover rate (44 assists, 30 turnovers). He continued to struggle establishing consistency as a rebounder despite his sturdy, 6-foot-7 frame, averaging just 3.6 per game.
Schwartz likely will be the X-factor for the Buffs again next year, and, much like the team as a whole, the late slide shouldn’t ruin all the positive performances that led to that point. If he can heal that damaged confidence, Schwartz could be in line for a big senior season.