Like his new teammates, who were denied their first chance to play in the NCAA Tournament due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Jeriah Horne has never participated in college basketball’s Big Dance either.
He chose Colorado in part to fix that shortcoming as a senior.
Horne began practice with the Buffaloes this week as the first incoming graduate transfer in program history. While it has been an unusual getting-to-know-you phase in recent months due to coronavirus restrictions, that hunger for an NCAA tourney berth is one thing Horne already has in common with CU’s veterans.
While Horne wasn’t as certain of a possible NCAA berth last spring as CU was, his Tulsa team nonetheless was 21-10 and tabbed as the third seed in the American Athletic Conference tournament before it was canceled. Finding a team where he had a legitimate chance to make that goal a reality figured heavily in Horne’s search for a new school.
“That definitely was at the top of my list,” Horne said. “Especially since I had a chance to make that happen at my former school, us being in the conference (tournament). Because of COVID things got interrupted. But I wanted to be part of a school that had veterans and guys that hadn’t been there before, just like I haven’t. That hunger is a little different when you don’t know what it feels like. Being able to come in and be a part of a group of guys who want that was something that was really high on my list.”
The 6-foot-7 Horne averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds for Tulsa and becomes a replacement for graduated forward Lucas Siewert, who averaged 7.7 points and 4.1 rebounds last year before finishing his career as one of the top 3-point shooters in program history. Horne has a similar ability to stretch defenses, and head coach Tad Boyle has been impressed with how Horne has transitioned into his new home.
“Jeriah did a great job, and has done a great job, of just meshing with our veteran players as well as our new players,” Boyle said. “And he’s a very mature kid. Very personable. He’s a guy that’s not afraid to talk. And I think he’s been a great teammate so far. The other thing about Jeriah that I’ve found out on the floor is he’s a great talker. He knows how to get his shots off. He knows how to help other people get their shots off. He’s really stepped in as a grad transfer, the first one we’ve had, and done a terrific job from a leadership standpoint given he’s a new player himself.”
Big 12 battle rekindled
Two weeks ago, Boyle told BuffZone he expected the Little Apple Classic, the multi-team event at Kansas State where the Buffs tip off the season, to be played in a tournament-style format. Instead, CU will play a set matchup against the host Wildcats in the second game of the event on Nov. 27.
“The one thing about the Kansas State MTE is we’ve got it, we’re good. There’s four teams in it and we’re going to get two games there,” Boyle said. “I’ve moved on to other nonconference scheduling which we’re still trying to figure out. I think it will be good for K-State to play us and for us to play K-State. But before that, South Dakota State is a quality opponent. It’s one of those games that’s much like the Northern Iowa game last year for us. They’re a quality team with a lot of their top players back.”
South Dakota State, who the Buffs face on college basketball’s Nov. 25 opening night, went 22-10 last year but was upset as the No. 2 seed by Purdue Fort Wayne in the first round of the Summit League tournament. The matchup with Kansas State, the first for CU since it left the Big 12 following Boyle’s first season in 2010-11, still will be the most favorable matchup for the Buffs at the MTE in terms of future NET rankings, particularly since it will count as a road game.
As expected, on Thursday night the Pac-12 announced it will forge ahead with plans for its first 20-game men’s basketball league schedule. There will be a 22-game conference schedule in women’s basketball.