The graduation of Benan Ersek won’t be the only change in the walk-on contingent for the Colorado men’s basketball team next season.
For walk-on-turned-scholarship player Will Loughlin, it seems the real world has beckoned.
This week, head coach Tad Boyle confirmed to BuffZone that Loughlin not only will not be returning to the Buffaloes, but the opportunity to begin his professional career has enticed the 6-foot-9 Loughlin to say farewell to his playing days.
Meanwhile, Boyle said walk-ons Jack Pease and Amondo Miller are exploring other options while keeping the door open on a return to CU. At this stage, forward Cody Mains is the only walk-on certain to return for the 2022-23 season.
While Boyle said Loughlin was welcome back next season in a return to his walk-on role, the Seattle native was recognized during CU’s Senior Day festivities at the final home game. Loughlin previously said he would have a decision to make with the COVID-spurred extra season of eligibility at his disposal, and at one point admitted playing one more season elsewhere was a possibility.
Instead, Loughlin is ready to put his degree to work.
“Will is going to go get a job,” Boyle said. “He got his degree in computer science. That job market is red hot right now. I loved what he brought to the program and he certainly was welcome back. He just feels like that’s the direction he needs to go.”
Previously a practice player with the CU women’s program, Loughlin joined the Buffs for the 2020-21 season, appearing in two games. Since CU went into this past season with only 12 scholarship players after the late defection of transfer Mason Faulkner last summer, once the Buffs didn’t add a player to the roster prior to the 2021-22 semester break, Boyle awarded Loughlin the open scholarship. That financial agreement was retroactive to the start of the ’21-22 academic year.
Loughlin not only was a key interior piece at practice for CU, but he became a player Boyle turned to for spot minutes down the stretch following the late January knee injury that ended Lawson Lovering’s freshman season after 18 games. Loughlin appeared in nine games for the Buffs this past season, going 4-for-9 from the field and 1-for-2 on free throws with five rebounds in 45 total minutes.
Boyle said Pease and Miller, both freshmen this past season, are exploring what options might be available to transfer to a lower-level program. Pease appeared in two games, but Miller, a former star at Valor Christian, was intentionally held out of games in order to preserve the year of eligibility if he ultimately opts to transfer elsewhere.
“They’re testing the waters, so to speak, just in a different pond than Jabari (Walker) is,” Boyle said. “He’s in the NBA pond. They’re seeing what other offers are out there in college basketball. Division II-type situations where they might be able to get a scholarship and have a bigger role. They’re undecided right now. They’re obviously both welcome back, but they’re still up in the air. We’re actively talking to kids that are coming to Colorado that are good basketball players that might want to walk-on.”