It already has been a rough transition physically for the highly touted freshman class of the Colorado men’s basketball team.
As the Buffaloes embarked on a four-game exhibition trip to Costa Rica in August, two of the prospects from a class ranked 13th in the nation, and first in the Pac-12 Conference, by 247Sports.com were forced to watch the action from the sideline.
One was 6-foot-7 forward Quincy Allen, who went through most of the Buffs’ 10 pre-trip practices before getting sidelined by a hip injury that will rob Allen of his entire 2021-22 season. The other was multi-faceted guard Javon Ruffin, who is on the mend from a knee injury and making a run at a spot in the rotation.
“He’s got a really good basketball IQ. He’s got a good feel for the game,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said about the 6-foot-5 guard. “But you can tell the speed of things for him is a little different than what he’s used to. Because he did not have a summer at all. He did not have a fall at all, other than watching. Now he’s thrown into the fire and the game moves faster. Javon is going to be a really good player. He’s still in the process of trusting the knee and that takes time. That doesn’t happen overnight or even in a week.”
Prior to his arrival at CU, Ruffin suffered a dislocated right knee cap that required surgery to repair cartilage damage. He was forced to recuperate on the sideline during the Buffs’ summer workouts, but he returned to the mix during the first week of preseason practice two weeks ago. Ruffin is playing with a bulky brace on his right knee but hopes at some point to move to a smaller, less restrictive brace.
“I think it’s going well. It’s way different, a way higher level than it was in high school. Even playing in a good high school league,” Ruffin said. “You have to get used to the speed and the talent of all the other guys. And honestly, the knee feels good. It sucks I have to wear this brace, but there’s not pain when I play. I don’t feel restricted.”
Ruffin is accustomed to having to work to fit in.
The son of Denver native and former NBA veteran Michael Ruffin, Javon was born in Spain and spent some of his childhood in Colorado, where he still has a number of extended family members. At one point, he also was a youth basketball teammate of fellow CU freshman Julian Hammond III. Ruffin considers New Orleans his hometown but spent last year at PHHoenix Prep.
At CU, Ruffin is likely to compete with bigger wings like 6-foot-5 Nique Clifford for playing time.
“I think I can bring a little bit of everything,” Ruffin said. “I’m just trying to fill some of the gaps that I felt like we were missing while I was watching. My goal is going to be to be a facilitator, rebounder. I want to be able to guard some of the best guys. I think I can really fit into a lot of different roles. And I can space the floor a little bit as well.
“I think I’m in a great situation this year where I can come in, work, learn from the older guys and just keep getting better.”