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CU Buffs men’s basketball notes: Tad Boyle confident in ’22-23 outlook, regardless of Jabari Walker

CU sophomore goes through first tests at NBA draft combine

Dec. 10, 2021- University of Colorado ...
University of Colorado Boulder’s Jabari Walker goes to the basket on Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. during the December 10, 2021 game in Boulder.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer)
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As Jabari Walker began getting measured and evaluated at the NBA Draft Combine on Wednesday, it probably was not a stretch to wonder if it also was the future of the Colorado program under the microscope somewhat in Chicago.

Certainly that’s not to say Walker has the weight of Buff Nation on his shoulders in Chicago. Walker simply is playing for his future, hoping an impressive week allows his possible final decision on leaving CU a confident one.

Still, Walker’s fate inevitably reshapes the expectations surrounding CU’s 2022-23 season. Yet either way, head coach Tad Boyle says the Buffs are prepared.

Earlier this week, the Buffs added a junior college transfer to the mix in J’Vonne Hadley, a 6-foot-6 forward who began his collegiate career at Northeastern but spent this past season at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. Whether the Buffs add another player is entirely dependent on Walker, and this week Boyle told BuffZone that contingency plans already have been handled.

“We’ve got some things in place,” Boyle said. “We’re going to be in good shape next year whether Jabari comes back or doesn’t come back. That’s what we’ve been trying to do this spring, is put ourselves in position to be OK. Obviously we’re a better team if (Walker) comes back. But if he doesn’t come back, I still think we’re going to have a chance to be a pretty darn good team.”

For a player still not a consensus second-round pick in a majority of mock drafts, Walker’s uncertain status nonetheless has generated a number of headlines recently. Two weeks ago Walker’s father, former NBA veteran Samaki Walker, told ESPN his son was “all in” for starting a professional career and has “no intentions of returning to school.”

Boyle walked back the finality of that statement somewhat last week, telling BuffZone that Walker remains reenrolled in fall semester classes, just in case, and that “nothing has changed” in regard to Walker at least keeping his options open on a possible return to CU. While Boyle believes a still-young Buffs team that, as of now, is slated to have just one senior will be competitive in the Pac-12 regardless, a return by Walker would make CU a possible long shot candidate for the conference crown behind presumptive league front-runners UCLA, Arizona and USC.

Measuring up

Walker apparently lost one inch and a couple pounds from what he was listed at with CU this past season. How CU’s 19-year old sophomore fared in his early physical measurements on Wednesday at the combine:

Height: 6-8 (in shoes; listed at 6-9 this past season).

Wingspan: 6-10.75.

Standing reach: 8-9.

Weight: 213.8 pounds (listed at 215 this past season).

Body fat: 12.1 percent

Notable

Boyle departs on May 25 for Houston, where he will oversee the U18 tryout camp for the US national team for the FIBA Americas Championship…Hadley is the fourth player Boyle has signed out of Indian Hills Community College. At Northern Colorado, Boyle signed Denver native Jabril Banks as well as Robert Palacios out of Indian Hills. He also signed former Buffs guard Shane Gatling out of Indian Hills in 2018 and inherited one other Indian Hills alum, former Buffs forward Marcus Relphorde, when he took over at CU in 2010.

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