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Loss of annual LA trips could dent recruiting ground for CU Buffs men’s basketball

USC, UCLA set to leave Pac-12 after 2023-24 season

Jan. 22, 2022- University of Colorado ...
University of Colorado Boulder’s KJ Simpson drives on UCLA’s Jules Bernard during the Pac-12 game in Boulder on January 22, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Tad Boyle is on the road this week hitting the summer recruiting circuit. He knows the questions from potential recruits about what conference the Buffaloes might call home in the near future are inevitable.

Boyle will respond as best as he can. But like everyone else, he won’t have a clear answer.

“That’s above my pay grade,” Boyle joked, adding he is following the news for updates just like any other fan. While much remains uncertain for all of CU’s athletic programs, one change Boyle can start planning around is no longer having a direct link to the fertile recruiting ground of Los Angeles.

Last week’s decision by UCLA and USC to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten means following the next two seasons, at the most, Boyle’s squad no longer will make annual trips to Los Angeles. The area has been a lucrative recruiting target for the Buffs in 12 seasons under Boyle, but the Buffs’ leader believes other recent changes to the collegiate sports landscape will deflect the loss of regular business trips to Los Angeles.

“It helps if you do (play in L.A.), there’s no doubt about that. But, to me, with the onset of NIL, it’s not as big a deal,” Boyle said. “Players now are able to hopefully make enough money for their parents to fly out for games. If a kid from LA wants to go eastward, with NIL it’s going to be easier for them to do that. I think it offsets itself a little bit in that regard.

“Only time will tell, but we’ll find that out as we go along. We have made some great inroads with LA recruiting and it is a very important area for us, without a doubt. We’re not going to stop recruiting there.”

Boyle and his staff thrived during pandemic recruiting, landing a 2021 class ranked at the top of the Pac-12 despite conducting basically all of the recruiting processes through Zoom meetings. Yet the Boyle era also has featured a steady stream of productive players out of the Los Angeles area, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Xavier Johnson, Lucas Siewert, Evan Battey, Jabari Walker, and KJ Simpson. That list also could be stretched to include two transfers originally from Los Angeles, Carlon Brown and Namon Wright, as well as former star Tyler Bey, a Las Vegas native who went to prep school in Los Angeles.

As Boyle ponders the future of his program alongside the rest of the athletic department, he is of the belief the biggest selling point to highlight to recruits regarding CU will remain unchanged, regardless of how the latest round of conference realignment unfolds.

“As I’ve thought about this, I’m steadfast in this belief that we have to create a game day atmosphere that young men are going to want to be a part of,” Boyle said. “I think we’ve done that in large part. The CU Events Center is a great place to play college basketball. We just have to make sure that thing is jumping and packed on a regular basis night in and night out. That’s the challenge that I have and I want our fans to understand and take pride in the game day atmosphere that they help create.

“Obviously our players have to do their part. The coaches have to do their part. To me, as the head coach at Colorado, I want everybody who’s a constituent of ours to understand we’re in this thing together. It’s true for basketball, it’s true for football. If we can have a great game day atmosphere at Folsom Field every Saturday, kids are going to want to come play football at Colorado.”

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