The continued societal lockdown prompted by the coronavirus is a monumental hurdle for the entire sports world. It may prove doubly frustrating for basketball players like new Colorado signee Tristan da Silva.
Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle and his staff kept their wooing of da Silva under the radar, finalizing their recruitment of the German national last week on the first day of the spring signing period. When da Silva might actually set foot on campus remains up in the air.
Obviously that remains true for all of the Buffs players, who are taking classes online, working out on their own, and settling for meetings with the coaching staff via online forums. Like the Buffs’ other two signees last week — Jabari Walker and Tulsa graduate transfer Jeriah Horne — da Silva inked his letter of intent without once visiting CU’s campus. Yet for new international recruits like da Silva, the normal mountain of red tape involved in beginning a collegiate basketball career is likely to be magnified.
“The one thing that we talked about with Tristan and his family is that we’re all going to have to exercise patience,” Boyle said. “In a perfect world, we want all of our players here for the summer, or at least part of the summer, to bond and to grow and to develop and to kind of get the taste of college. And with Tristan being a new international student, there’s going to be more challenges.”
The CU basketball team, including its international players, typically reconvenes on campus in June after a break of several weeks following spring semester finals. That will not happen this year, with the basketball youth camps — along with all of CU’s summer sports camps — getting canceled last week.
Exactly when da Silva can get his paperwork handled and travel to Colorado remains in question. Regardless, Boyle sees da Silva as a key piece of the future of CU basketball. The younger brother of Stanford star Oscar da Silva, Tristan da Silva is part of a 2020 freshman class that includes Walker in addition to in-state recruits Dominique Clifford and Luke O’Brien.
With Horne getting penciled in to a prominent spot in the rotation as the primary replacement for NBA draft-bound junior Tyler Bey, Boyle and the Buffs already appear to have more candidates for playing time than will actually be available in the rotation, particularly if point guard McKinley Wright IV returns for his senior season as expected. If the red tape forces da Silva into a redshirt season, it could be viewed as a blessing in disguise for the Buffs, who could push da Silva’s first active season to 2021-22 after they are scheduled to bid farewell to Wright, Horne, D’Shawn Schwartz, Maddox Daniels, and Alex Strating.
“That summertime access will most likely not be there. He understands that. We understand that. That’s why this was a big-picture signing,” Boyle said. “Hopefully he can come in next year and be a contributor and have an impact on our team on the floor. But more importantly, this was a four- or five-year decision on his end and on our end. So the summertime for Tristan probably will not happen due to the visas, embassies, I-20s, and all the things that have to happen for international students to arrive on a campus. It’s going to be really, really difficult for that to happen this summer given the coronavirus situation.”