The Colorado men’s basketball team has played without the rotation pieces the Buffaloes were expecting throughout the season.
The Buffs’ roster was left shorthanded over the summer when newly-arrived transfer Mason Faulkner left almost as soon as he arrived, transferring yet again to Louisville to leave CU coach Tad Boyle with just 12 scholarship players for the 2021-22 campaign.
Not long after, two of the rookies in CU’s Pac-12-leading recruiting class were sidelined by injury, with Quincy Allen’s hip injury leading to an early designation of a redshirt season. Freshman guard Javon Ruffin, who has yet to play due to a knee injury, trends a little closer to his own redshirt designation with each passing week.
With those personnel issues as a backdrop long before CU was hit with its recent COVID setbacks, it’s easy to wonder how some of last year’s veterans might have fared in the Buffs’ new-look rotation. Here’s how those once-familiar faces, and all the other former Buffs still playing college basketball, are faring so far in the 2021-22 season.
D’Shawn Schwartz, George Mason
Schwartz has started all 12 games for the Patriots and head coach Kim English, a former CU assistant. Schwartz leads George Mason with 34.3 minutes per game, well more than his CU career-high of 28.8 minutes per game as a sophomore in 2018-19. The Colorado Springs native is averaging a career-high 14.6 points per game while shooting .451 from the field, which also is a career-best mark so far. Schwartz is shooting .373 on 3-pointers and is 14-for-16 at the free throw line. He also is averaging a career-high 5.0 rebounds. The Patriots will play a scheduled-on-the-fly matchup at No. 6 Kansas on Saturday.
Dallas Walton, Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons have been a pleasant surprise in the ACC, with the 7-footer from Arvada playing a key role. Walton has started all 13 games for Wake Forest, averaging 8.0 points and 5.4 rebounds. He also is enjoying a new level of playing time at his new home, averaging a career-best 25.1 minutes (Walton’s top mark at CU was 18.6 minutes per game in 2017-18). Although Walton is just 5-for-23 on 3-pointers (.217), he is shooting .471 overall and owns a team-leading 19 blocked shots. Walton never averaged more than 3.4 rebounds at CU (in 2017-18) but he is grabbing 5.4 per game for the Demon Deacons.
Jeriah Horne, Tulsa
Horne was a key addition as a graduate transfer for the Buffs’ run to the Pac-12 title game and the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, averaging 10.8 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds while shooting .397 on 3-pointers. He also contributed to the Buffs’ record-setting free throw effort by going 48-for-53 (.906). Horne opted to return to Tulsa for his extra season of eligibility, and he is leading the Golden Hurricanes in scoring (16.6) and rebounding (7.8). Horne again is shooting well from 3-point range with a .417 mark (25-for-60).
Daylen Kountz, Northern Colorado
Now in his second season with the Bears, the former Denver East star has been lighting it up. Kountz, who transferred from CU after the 2019-20 season, leads the Big Sky Conference in scoring (18.8). Kountz is shooting a stellar .453 on 3-pointers (24-for-53) and .500 overall. He is averaging 4.4 rebounds and has more assists (43) than turnovers (29) for the first time since his freshman year at CU (2018-19).
Alex Strating, Missouri S&T
Like Schwartz and Walton, Strating exhausted his traditional eligibility in a full career at CU but opted to spend the extra year granted by the NCAA for the 2020-21 pandemic season at Missouri S&T, a Division II program. A respected glue guy who never enjoyed consistent playing time at CU, Strating is playing a key role at Missouri S&T. He has appeared in all 10 games for the Miners, making one start, and ranks third on the team in scoring at 10.3 points per game. Strating leads Missouri S&T with a .629 field goal percentage and has gone 24-for-30 (.800) at the free throw line. Strating’s 103 points is 38 more than he scored during his entire CU career.
Deleon Brown, Grand Valley State
Brown enjoyed a solid start to his CU career that came to a screeching halt midway through his junior season in 2018-19, when he was ruled academically ineligible. Brown transferred to Grand Valley State, a Division II program in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., and redshirted during the 2019-20 season. He played in 13 games last year (12 starts), averaging 11.9 points with a .416 shooting percentage. Brown also opted to use his extra season of eligibility this year, averaging 5.9 points through the Lakers’ first 10 games.
Isaac Jessup and Owen Koonce, Colorado Mesa
The former Colorado prep stars spent one year as walk-ons with the Buffs in 2020-21 before moving on to the Division II power in Grand Junction. Koonce has averaged 10.0 points in 13 games with a .537 field goal percentage, while Jessup has averaged 5.8 points in 15 games.