For many basketball recruits, the first year of college often proves to be a dizzying array of new challenges, from tackling a demanding new level of play to getting adjusted to life away from home.
For Javon Ruffin, chances are his first year in Boulder will amount to just another year in a well-traveled life.
The latest addition for what is shaping up to be a solid 2021 recruiting class for coach Tad Boyle’s CU program already has led the life of a basketball nomad, living in Spain, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., New Orleans and, most recently, Phoenix. Most people arrive at college welcoming a new chapter. If Ruffin plays his entire four-year career with the Buffaloes, it just may mark the most stable phase of his young life.
“I have been a lot of places. I think at one point I’d moved more times than how old I was,” Ruffin said. “But I think it’s been an advantage, moving around a lot. This year, not being with my family I think will help a little bit. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I do have a little experience in that already. It will be a little bit smoother of a transition.”
Part of Ruffin’s nomadic existence can be attributed to following the career of his father, Denver native Michael Ruffin, whose 10-year professional basketball career included six cities in nine NBA seasons as well as one year in Spain. Ruffin’s recent commitment to the Buffs brings his family’s basketball arc full circle in more ways than one. One of Ruffin’s future CU classmates, Julian Hammond, will be attempting to give Cherry Creek its first state basketball championship since 1995, when Michael Ruffin led the Bruins to an overtime win in the Class 5A state final.
Ruffin and Hammond were long-ago youth league teammates in the Denver area before Ruffin moved on. If Ruffin lands in Boulder next year as expected it will give the Buffs two sons of former NBA players on the roster, as current freshman Jabari Walker is the son of Samaki Walker, a former 10-year NBA veteran.
“I’ve talked to (Hammond) a little bit and we knew each other before,” Ruffin said. “I actually just played a few games up in Salt Lake City, and I ran into his dad and a few other guys. That’s going to be fun, going in with somebody I’m already familiar with.”
Ruffin and Hammond are part of a 2021 recruiting class that also includes Wyoming 7-footer Lawson Lovering and D.C.-area prospect Quincy Allen, both of whom are rated as four-star recruits by 247Sports.com. Boyle still has a fifth potential scholarship at his disposal for 2021, but he indicated to BuffZone recently he most likely will take that open slot into the spring.
The 6-foot-5 Ruffin says he has added about 15 pounds to his frame over the past year, pushing his weight to about 195. After settling somewhat in New Orleans, Ruffin moved last year to Arizona to join Phoenix Prep school for his final year of high school in hopes of tackling better competition, and improving accordingly, before packing his bags once again.
“That was a big reason why I wanted to come there. I know they like bigger, longer guards who can rebound, pass, shoot, play off the ball and or on the ball,” Ruffin said. “I really feel like I can fill those spots and roles. From what I’ve heard from the coaches, I really feel like I can be one of those guys for them.”