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New-look CU men’s basketball gets set to open summer practices

11th-ranked recruiting class off and running

BOULDER, CO - Dec. 16, 2020: ...
Coach Tad Boyle’s club is leading the nation in free throw percentage going in to the Buffs’ game against Grand Canyon. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

With an overload of new faces ready to battle for spots in the rotation, it might be difficult for the Colorado men’s basketball team to hit the ground running for the 2021-22 season.

Yet there will be plenty of running nonetheless. With an abundance of depth and athleticism on the roster, the Buffaloes expect to be a high-octane operation. That approach begins next week.

On Thursday, the Buffs will hold their first of 10 summer practices allowed ahead of the program’s once-every-four-years international trip in August. Head coach Tad Boyle once again said the Buffs will split those 10 practices into two mini-camps, starting the first set of five practices on Thursday through the following week before going through the next five practices ahead of CU’s exhibition trip to Costa Rica in August.

Simply getting out and playing will be at the top of the summer agenda.

“I think one main thing will be getting them up to speed on our terminology,” Boyle said. “We have to get them involved offensively and defensively. We’re not going to spend a lot of time putting in plays. We want to run on every miss, on steals, and we want to push after every make. We’re not even going to put in zone stuff, any zone offense, because we just want to get them out and play.”

The practices will mark the first official workout sessions for a 2021 recruiting class ranked 11th in the nation by — Quincy Allen, Julian Hammond, Lawson Lovering, Javon Ruffin, and KJ Simpson. Simpson’s delayed 2020-21 senior high school season in California featured a lengthy postseason run that finally ended on Thursday night, but Boyle said the one-time Arizona recruit will arrive in Boulder soon. Simpson completed his prep career with a Chaminade school-record 2,342 points.

Thursday’s initial session also will be the first official CU practice for guard Mason Faulkner, the graduate transfer from Western Carolina.

The Buffs will be without forward Tristan da Silva for the first set of five practices and could be missing fellow sophomore Jabari Walker as well. Walker is set to compete for a spot on the USA Basketball’s U19 World Cup team in a training camp that begins on Sunday at TCU, but if he does not make the 12-player squad Walker likely will be back in Boulder for the Buffs’ practices. Da Silva is visiting his family in Germany and will return to CU ahead of the pre-Costa Rica practices.

“In our workouts that we’ve been doing we’ve been doing more four-on-four and five-on-five stuff than we ever have at this time of year,” Boyle said. “Normally it would be skill development and that sort of thing. We want to get them ingrained with how we want to play. Because next November will be here before you know it. We want them to have as many reps and to understand as much as they can. The skill work is certainly important, the shooting and getting better in terms of their skills set. But they’re going to have to do a lot of that on their own.”

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