Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Eli shall no longer be known as Eli.
Off the court, Colorado’s senior guard wants to spend his senior season going by his full name, Elijah.
“I just wanted to use my full name instead of my nickname,” Parquet explained. “I always go by my nickname off the court, but I just wanted to get my full name on the court.”
Beyond the slight name adjustment, CU’s standout perimeter defender doesn’t want to change much during his senior year. As the Buffs went through their first official preseason practice of the 2021-22 campaign on Tuesday morning g at the CU Events Center, Parquet, one of just two senior scholarship players on the roster, stepped even deeper into his new role as a team leader.
It’s not a natural role for Parquet, whose supreme aggressiveness at the defensive end of the floor belies a quiet, reserved nature off the court. Yet after a breakout year for the Buffs, Parquet is looking to balance his Pac-12 All-Defensive team honors with a bigger impact on offense.
“I really just plan to build off of that year,” Parquet said. “I feel I could have gotten Defensive Player of the Year last year, so I’m going to come after that this year. And then get better offensively, be more of a weapon. Coach (Tad Boyle) just tells me to take the good (shots) like last year. I’ll hunt them a little more, but it’s just making sure you take good shots. It’s just taking what the defense gives me.”
Parquet started 31 games for the Buffs last year and routinely guarded the opposition’s top perimeter player. After shooting just .340 overall and .295 on 3-pointers (18-for-61) through his first two seasons, Parquet turned that round last year after retooling the mechanics of his jump shot, posting a .476 mark overall while going 23-for-55 on 3-pointers (.418).
Parquet did that damage while focused on his defense, picking his spots on offense judiciously before finishing with a scoring average of 5.2 that ranked eighth on the team. This season, Boyle believes Parquet can make a bigger impact offensively without getting into the bad habit of firing up bad shots.
“I think Eli just needs to take good shots, just like he did last year,” Boyle said. “The reason he had a good year offensively last year was that he took good shots. He didn’t force things. I mentioned this to Eli in our meeting that I had with him last week that I thought he did a good job last year, as I watched more film from last year’s team, he made some good plays for us at the end of the shot clock when the ball was in his hands. Five seconds to go and he’s got to make a play, he’s capable of making plays.
“But he doesn’t need to do anything outside of who he is. Just take great shots, take care of the ball, and make the right decisions at the right times.”
As for that leadership aspect, expect fellow senior Evan Battey to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to being vocal in the huddle in the middle of tight games. But Parquet plans to make his voice known far more frequently as his senior season unfolds.
“Eli and I have talked about that. Sometimes growth only happens when you get outside your comfort zone,” Boyle said. “Eli’s comfort zone is to keep quiet. Some guys’ comfort zone is to talk all the time. I think he’s made some progress in that area.”