Less than a half hour in real time after staggering off the CU Events Center floor on legs rendered jelly-like after a shot to his head, KJ Simpson was ready to take his place in the layup line to warm up for the second half.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle applauded the effort. But maybe not the wisdom.
On Friday, a day after the Buffaloes resumed competitive play with an 83-78 home win against Washington State, Boyle said Simpson was able to go through some workouts but did not practice. Despite the freshman guard’s clear drive to get back on the floor, Simpson’s status for Sunday’s game against Washington (3 p.m., ESPN2) will not be determined until later in the weekend.
“The one thing kids have to understand in today’s world, with the heightened sensitivity to concussions, that once they’re deemed to have a concussion, they’re in the concussion protocol,” Boyle said. “A lot of kids don’t understand that. I explained it to our group before the season started. They have a return to play protocol.”
Simpson played less than six minutes before a drive to the basket ended with hard contact to his head, though no foul was called. Nique Clifford converted a putback basket after Simpson missed, and soon the freshman guard was being led to the locker room while struggling to get his legs to cooperate.
Simpson didn’t score any points but recorded two assists, one steal and one turnover in 5 minutes, 46 seconds of court time.
“He’s doing better and feels good,” Boyle said. “I’ll address it with him (Saturday) and see what his status is.”
During his media session on Thursday, CU football coach Karl Dorrell was asked how Drew Carter’s participation with the basketball team would affect the quarterback’s availability for the football team’s offseason program, which begins Jan. 18.
Dorrell’s response made it sound as if Carter’s time working out with the basketball team will end on Jan. 18.
“He’ll be back with us when we start our offseason on the 18th,” Dorrell said. “His second love is basketball. He’s from a basketball family. It’s been a big part of his family. We had an agreement between coach Boyle and myself about him helping out the team and being involved in the game. But he knows when we start our offseason on the 18th, he’s back with football. I think it helps him both mentally and emotionally, still being tied a little bit to that sport. He understands that he is one of our quarterbacks and he’s got a lot of development to continue to improve with.”
Asked on Friday if Carter will no longer be part of basketball workouts come Jan. 18, Boyle offered a more vague response while still reiterating football will remain priority No. 1 for Carter.
“I always just go back to the fact he’s here on a football scholarship. He’s not here on a basketball scholarship,” Boyle said. “To me, Drew’s availability to our program is going to be based on the discussions he and Karl have together. I’m certainly not going to get involved with those.
“If in fact he’s not, and he’ll be in the football area of things on that date, then that’s where he’ll be. He’s a football player first and a basketball player second. But Drew has really, really helped our scout squad, our practice squad. He’s been a benefit in the time he’s been here.”
With the win on Thursday, CU improved to 11-0 all-time at home against Washington State…Point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy has made his past 15 free throw attempts and is 13-for-13 in CU’s three Pac-12 games.