CU men’s basketball hopes July 20 workout target date becomes reality

Updated NCAA activity calendar doesn’t lift recruiting restrictions

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado’s head coach, Tad Boyle, during a time out against Iona in Boulder on Dec. 29, 2019.

In a month, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle and his staff will be able to work with his players on the court for the first time since March, when the NCAA Tournament and the remainder of NCAA athletics was sent to the sideline by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No doubt, Boyle and the Buffs are excited by the prospect of truly getting back to work. Yet CU’s leader still views that July 20 target date as a sort of believe-it-when-it-happens proposition after the NCAA Division I Council last week approved an updated activities calendar for men’s and women’s basketball, allowing for up to eight hours per week of coach-supervised workouts.

That eight hours per week guideline will be in place for up to eight weeks from July 20 through Sept. 15 or until the first day of classes, whichever arrives first. While July 20 remains the target date, individual schools still will have the flexibility to alter the start of those workouts in accordance with local health guidelines.

“I’m not sure the July 20th date is etched in stone,” Boyle said. “We’re hopeful that will be the case, but it’s hard to say how official that is just yet. Obviously we normally would get eight weeks in the gym with access to our guys in the summertime. And I think if we were able to get three or four weeks this year, I think every basketball coach in the country would be happy with that. We’ll wait and see how that all plays out. We don’t know how that’s going to happen. A lot of it is going to depend on football and there’s a lot of things I think that have to be ironed out between now and then.”

In addition to voluntary workouts, teams currently are allowed up to eight hours of virtual activities like meetings or film sessions through July 19.

While the Division I Council approved the upcoming expansion of coach-supervised workouts, the group tabled discussion about allowing off-campus recruiting and on-campus visits to resume either late in the summer or early in the fall. The 2021 recruiting class will be a critical one for Boyle’s program given its size, as the Buffs will look to replace 2020-21 seniors McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz, Alex Strating, Maddox Daniels, and graduate transfer Jeriah Horne. The Buffs have one of those spots secured with a verbal commitment from Wyoming 7-footer Lawson Lovering.

Still, with the AAU circuit largely on hold and some uncertainty looming with how athletic programs will deal with upticks in confirmed coronavirus cases as campuses open, Boyle is a believer in progressing prudently with recruiting guidelines.

“In terms of recruiting, I get it. I think it’s good that we probably take a pause a little bit,” Boyle said. “With the amount of film that’s out there, and I know there are different states that are opening up at different rates. There’s kids playing basketball in leagues right now as we speak in certain parts of the country. And then there’s others where they can’t even get in the gym. From a recruiting standpoint, and just from a safety standpoint, I think we have to hold tight on that. I’d be happy if we could be back in somebody’s gym watching somebody work out in September. But once again, we’ll see.”