Despite the forgettable finish, there were plenty of memorable moments during the 2019-20 men’s basketball season at Colorado, from D’Shawn Schwartz’s overtime buzzer-beater that knocked off Dayton to an exciting win against fourth-ranked Oregon in the Pac-12 opener that stoked the expectations of Buffs fans.
Beyond the big wins, however, the season’s most indelible moment started as a frightening one.
Early in the second half of a home win against Stanford on Feb. 8, CU’s Evan Battey took advantage of a fast-break chance by hurling his 6-foot-8, 262-pound frame at the basket. Standing in his way was 6-foot-9, 225-pound Cardinal star Oscar da Silva.
The collision was violent, and da Silva got the worst of it. An emotional Battey extracted himself from the prone da Silva as the CU Events Center fell into nervous silence.
Few in the arena knew it at the time, but half a world away da Silva’s younger brother, Tristan, was watching the game while mulling the idea of committing to coach Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes. Had the aftermath of a tense situation gone sideways, perhaps it might have affected CU’s incoming freshman class. Instead, the stirring aftermath in which both teams huddled together at midcourt before resuming play only reassured Tristan da Silva he was on the right path with his interest in CU.
“I was actually watching that game live,” Tristan da Silva said. “When I saw that injury, I was shocked. Once I saw him walk out of the gym I knew he’d be OK, so I wasn’t worried about that. But then he told me about the things that happened after the incident between him and Evan, and that really kind of showed me how genuine and how nice the people here are.
“Evan, throughout the game, kept playing with tears in his eyes. How was able to make that happen, I don’t know how. He met with my brother and (Battey’s) mom and was so sorry about the whole thing. Of course it wasn’t intentional, but he started breaking down in front of my brother. That showed me how big of a family Colorado is and how nice the people here are.”
Tristan da Silva is the final piece of a solid freshman class that also includes Dominique Clifford, Luke O’Brien, and Jabari Walker. Da Silva arrived in Boulder from his native Germany early last week and will complete his mandatory quarantine this week.
Assuming there is a 2020-21 season at some point — the Pac-12 hotline at the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday there are possible scenarios where the league might back off its proposed Jan. 1 season start date — the da Silva brothers will get one year to compete against each other in the Pac-12.
Oscar da Silva required stitches to close a lacerated scalp after the collision with Battey, and he missed the Cardinal’s next game before finishing as a first team All-Pac 12 selection. Though he was unable to visit Colorado’s campus during the pandemic, and his arrival marked his first in-person glimpse of his new home, the family’s familiarity with the Pac-12 helped steer Tristan da Silva toward Boulder.
Like recent 2021 Washington DC commit Quincy Allen, da Silva also credited a relationship with former assistant Anthony Coleman for piquing his interest in CU’s program. After his lone season at CU, Coleman rejoined the staff at Arizona State.
“The second person I talked to after coach Coleman was Tad Boyle, and so those were the main guys recruiting me,” da Silva said. “I really enjoyed talking with coach Boyle and I really liked coach Coleman. Unfortunately he’s not here anymore but I’m getting along really, really well with all the other coaches.”