Heading into a season in which he expects to play a bigger, far more crucial role, Keeshawn Barthelemy decided he wanted a clean slate.
A new season, fresh approach, and the expectation of more meaningful contributions inspired Barthelemy into a dramatic hairstyle change this summer. Gone are the wild locks that added a little cushion atop his 6-foot-2 frame, exchanged for a close-cropped cut that has given Barthelemy the look of a new man as the Colorado men’s basketball team goes through summer practices.
The player hoping to take control of the point guard spot hopes the new look leads to a new-look game as well.
After serving as the backup point guard behind McKinley Wright IV as a redshirt freshman during the 2020-21 season, Barthelemy earlier this week expressed some frustration while reviewing his first season in action with the Buffs. Sure, Barthelemy understood his playing time would be thin behind Wright. Ideally, though, Barthelemy wanted to make a much bigger impact during those scattered opportunities.
“I needed a change from what happened last season, the season I had and stuff,” Barthelemy said. “I think it’s just best for me to start fresh. I didn’t play as well as I would’ve wanted to. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved the time that I got because I didn’t compete defensively and I wasn’t a leader out there as a point guard.
“Coming into this offseason, I’ve really tried to improve on those things. And I think I should be fine.”
Barthelemy appeared in 30 of the Buffs’ 32 games, shooting .353 overall while struggling to a .304 mark (17-for-56) on 3-pointers. Although he didn’t shoot as well as he preferred, Barthelemy still recorded a solid assist-to-turnover rate with 42 assists against 22 turnovers (1.91).
Barthelemy turned in several strong outings off the bench, most notably when Wright was sent to the locker room after absorbing a wild elbow from USC’s Chevez Goodwin during the first half of the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals. Barthelemy spelled Wright and made arguably his most important contributions of the season, sparking the Buffs with a pair of 3-pointers while going 3-for-4 overall. Barthelemy also scored six points with four assists in CU’s first-round rout of Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament.
With Wright trying to work his way into the NBA draft picture, Barthelemy is in the driver’s seat to replace him as the Buffs’ lead point guard. While it is far too soon for head coach Tad Boyle to commit to any projected starting lineup, CU’s leader has hinted the Buffs may utilize three-guard sets more frequently, given Barthelemy and returning starter Eli Parquet are welcoming an array of new guards in freshmen Julian Hammond, Javon Ruffin, and KJ Simpson, along with Western Carolina transfer Mason Faulkner.
“We’re very excited about our future. I know it was a tough season for me, but I’m always optimistic. I’m excited. I bring it every day in practice,” Barthelemy said. “With McKinley gone, somebody has got to take over. I think I’m ready for that. I’m excited with this new group of guys we’ve got.
“I like those guys off the court. We really bond off the court, so that helps on the court as well. It’s just a bunch of great teammates, great people. I’m excited.”