Elijah Parquet wasn’t immediately certain his Colorado playing career was over when a familiar jolt of pain assailed his right foot at Washington.
Parquet had been attempting to play through the pain, but it wasn’t long before the senior guard grudgingly conceded there would be no further playing through this. As the Buffaloes prepare for the final homestand of the season, which begins against Arizona State on Thursday (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network), Parquet will remain a spectator through the Senior Day festivities on Saturday against No. 2 Arizona.
Limping out to center court is not how any player envisions their eventual Senior Day, but unfortunately for Parquet that is the fate that has fallen his way. This week, Parquet spoke with BuffZone for the first time since playing what ultimately turned in to the last of his 105 games with the Buffs that Jan. 27 night in Seattle.
That game was the second one back on the floor for Parquet following a two-game absence, but after re-aggravating the injury against the Huskies, Parquet’s season detoured to the right foot surgery he endured last week to remove bone spurs.
“I tried to play through it as best as I could, but I couldn’t really plant anymore,” Parquet said. “I had a big one (bone spur) right under my heel and another one in my ankle pushing on my tendon. I couldn’t really shoot like I wanted to and be on balance. I re-aggravated it coming off of a rebound (at UW) and I twisted it up on somebody’s foot. I knew in the back of my head that was probably going to be the last one.”
Two nights earlier, Parquet struggled in his comeback from his first brief injury hiatus, going 0-for-5 with a pair of turnovers in 21 minutes during a CU win at Oregon. At Washington, Parquet appeared back in form, going 3-for-5 with a career-high-tying five rebounds, two assists, one rebound and five points in 31 minutes. Those points, however, were his final ones at CU.
A Pac-12 All-Defense selection last season, head coach Tad Boyle often has cited Parquet’s gradual yet clearly identifiable progress as something every incoming recruit should strive toward. Parquet appeared in 56 games (nine starts) while averaging just 1.9 points per game, but as a junior during the 2020-21 season he emerged as a dependable contributor.
Parquet started 31 games last season, averaging 5.2 points while earning the Pac-12 all-defense accolades. After shooting just .295 on 3-pointers during his first two seasons, Parquet shot .418 from the arc during last year’s NCAA Tournament season while contributing to CU’s program-record effort at the free throw line by going 21-for-23.
“When I look at Eli and his development, he’s been kind of what this program’s been all about in terms of just his work ethic on a daily basis, in the weight room and the gym,” Boyle said. “Eli is was a guy who was overlooked in Texas, as a lot of kids in Texas are. We took a chance on him and he grew to be a really good Pac-12-level player. Obviously All-Defensive Team player as a junior. Would have been as a senior if he’d stayed healthy.
“It’s unfortunate to see his college career end the way it did. It’s happened before in 27 years I’ve coached and it’s never fun for seniors to go out like that. But I’m really proud of him. You want it to be a win-win situation. You want the program to benefit from the player coming into it. But you want the player to have benefitted from the program. I think that’s the case with Eli.”