The facelift on the way for the roster of the Colorado men’s basketball team is inevitable.
What direction that roster overhaul might take could come into clearer focus by the end of the week.
After returning to Boulder on Tuesday following Monday’s season-ending loss against Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, there was little time to regroup for head coach Tad Boyle and his staff. Boyle told BuffZone on Wednesday the process of holding his annual, postseason one-on-one meetings with his players already has begun, and he might have a better grasp of what unexpected twists might hit the Buffaloes’ roster by the weekend.
“The (player meetings) start today and they end on Friday,” Boyle said. “So Friday at five o’clock, I’ll have a hell of a better feel for it. Any discussions we’ve had so far in the season have been pretty mundane. Players are smart. They know what their options are. To me, at this stage of the game where we are today, it is all about what’s best for the player. A week ago today, it was what’s best for Colorado basketball. That switch flips as well as soon as the season is over.
“That’s why we have to sit down and discuss where they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. They have those conversations with their families and they have them with me, and that’s where we are now.”
Barring any unexpected departures by underclassmen, the first order for business for Boyle in terms of the roster is to figure out if any of the Buffs’ six scholarship seniors might opt to take advantage of the NCAA’s eligibility relief offered for the 2020-21 season.
Star point guard McKinley Wright IV and wing D’Shawn Schwartz are all but certain to move on. Same with graduate transfer Jeriah Horne, who already has logged three stops in a five-year collegiate career. Of the remaining three, Alex Strating and Maddox Daniels told BuffZone last month they at least will explore their options after the season regarding a possible extra season of college basketball, whether it’s at CU or elsewhere. Even if they stay, however, Strating’s end-of-bench role would likely remain the same, and Daniels would face increased competition for playing time with the young wings set to permeate the 2021-22 roster.
That leaves the most curious situation surrounding the status of the 7-footer from Arvada West, Dallas Walton. In years past, Walton indicated he would seek a sixth season of eligibility as a medical hardship following the 2020-21 season, given that he redshirted as a true freshman following two ACL injuries during high school, then missed the 2018-19 season after suffering another ACL injury.
Walton no longer has to go through that process in order to attain a sixth season. Yet last month Walton also told BuffZone he would consider his postseason options, and following Monday’s loss he posted a tweet that featured the tone of a farewell message.
Previously, before the pandemic season threw everything into disarray, Boyle and his staff had planned to fill five scholarships from the departing 2021 senior class, the underlying assumption being that Walton would return. Yet even if he or any of his classmates choose to return, those returnees will not count against the usual allotment of 13 scholarships, so Boyle and his staff will hit the spring recruiting circuit with two scholarships available.
Given the Buffs are set to have only two seniors next year in Eli Parquet and Evan Battey — and no juniors, eligibility-wise — the Buffs could be active on the transfer market. Boyle said the Buffs will take a “best available” approach to any spring additions to potentially bolster the talented incoming freshman class of Quincy Allen, Julian Hammond, Lawson Lovering, and Javon Ruffin.
“Best available. That’ll all work itself out,” Boyle said. “This COVID situation has jumbled everyone’s rosters with transfers and immediate eligibility. Balancing classes, it used to be that was really important in my mind. But this year has thrown that all out of whack. So this year we’re going with best available.”