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Recruiting on a roll for CU Buffs men’s basketball

Virtual recruiting hasn’t hindered Buffs’ momentum

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle leads the 23rd-ranked Buffaloes into the Pac-12 semifinals Friday night against No. 24 USC.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle leads the 23rd-ranked Buffaloes into the Pac-12 semifinals Friday night against No. 24 USC.

During his department update with the media on Thursday, Colorado athletic director Rick George drew a few laughs at the expense of men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle.

George was discussing the ongoing dead period for in-person recruiting, hoping that soon might transform into a sort of “silent period” that would at least allow recruits to visit campuses. While making a point that in the post-pandemic world of collegiate athletics some endeavors that were handled with unprecedented alterations, like recruiting, might not necessarily return in full to the previous norms.

Case in point: Boyle and his staff. While certainly CU’s brain trust would prefer to be on the road, evaluating and eventually meeting new prospects, the handcuffs of pandemic recruiting haven’t hindered the Buffs.

The 2020-21 Buffs were a veteran group, yet they also featured an intriguing freshman class led by players like forwards Jabari Walker and Tristan da Silva, who were unable to take visits to CU. Same with the incoming 2021 class, which is ranked 13th in the nation by (as of the latest update Friday) despite the final steps of that group’s recruitment getting handled entirely virtually. The Buffs got off to a good start with assembling the 2022 class this week, netting a verbal commitment from four-star forward Joe Hurlburt.

“I think that (silent period) is kind of a start getting back to some sense of normalcy,” George said. “But I also think that we’ve learned a lot from this. I told Tad go play golf every day and recruit like you have. You had the best class in your history so (heck), you don’t need to be on the road.”

George was joking, but certainly the recruiting-from-home era hasn’t hurt Boyle and the Buffs. And they will need to remain adept at that approach as the spring recruiting period continues to unfold. In February, the NCAA Division I Council extended the recruiting dead period (no campus visits or off-site recruiting) through May 31.

With CU bidding farewell to its six scholarship seniors from 2020-21 — this week, D’Shawn Schwartz announced his intention to use his extra year of eligibility at George Mason, while Jeriah Horne will return to Tulsa — Boyle and his staff have two open scholarships to work with.

Boyle told BuffZone he ideally will look for an older, perimeter player to fill one of those slots to bolster that 2021 recruiting class. Add the incoming rookies to a 2020 freshman class that includes Walker, da Silva, Nique Clifford, Luke O’Brien, and redshirt freshman Keeshawn Barthelemy, and Boyle admitted the roster needs more fine-tuning than major upgrades.

In that light, Boyle also said holding one of those two open spots for next year’s recruiting cycle remains a possibility. CU currently is projected to have just two open spots for the 2022 class from rising seniors Evan Battey and Eli Parquet, and one of those slots was filled with Hurlburt’s commitment.

“I think we need to add one more perimeter player, just for depth purposes. That’s where we would use the portal to maybe get somebody with some experience,” Boyle said. “Those young guys, as they develop, we’re going to need at least two of them to step up and be contributing players.

“You just never know what’s going to happen with injuries. As I look at our roster right now, we’re good, and I feel comfortable and confident in everybody that’s on the roster performing next year. But we’ve got no insurance for injuries, and we’re very light on experience. Adding an experienced player from the transfer portal on the perimeter is probably priority number one. And then kind of wait and see with the other one. Maybe we use it, maybe we don’t. The jury is still out on that one.”

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