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Colorado men’s basketball notes: Tristan da Silva to test NBA draft prospects

University of Colorado Boulders' Tristan da Silva goes to the basket against against Utah Valleys' Aziz Bandaogo in Boulder on March 19, 2023.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
University of Colorado Boulders’ Tristan da Silva goes to the basket against against Utah Valleys’ Aziz Bandaogo in Boulder on March 19, 2023.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Tristan da Silva certainly isn’t packing his bags. But he is ready to get a sense of what may eventually come next in his basketball career.

Following an 81-69 defeat on Sunday night against Utah Valley in the second round of the NIT that ended Colorado’s season, da Silva admitted he likely will go through the NBA’s pre-draft evaluations, which players are allowed to do while still retaining their collegiate eligibility.

“I feel like I should definitely test the waters. See how it goes, get some feedback,” da Silva said. “That doesn’t tie me to anything. That’s just kind of the process for the summer. I haven’t made a final decision yet. You guys are going to be the first ones to know.”

It was a somewhat frustrating finish for da Silva, who went 5-for-12 overall and 0-for-4 on 3-pointers against Utah Valley, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds and four turnovers.

Still, it was a superb season for the junior forward, who earned first team All-Pac-12 honors. Da Silva posted 11 games with at least 20 points, the most by any CU player since Derrick White recorded 15 20-point games in 2016-17. His final scoring average of 15.9 is the sixth-highest in the program’s 13 seasons under head coach Tad Boyle.

Da Silva’s 556 points this season ranks 13th in team history.

“Tristan is going to test the waters,” Boyle said. “He’s going to get his feedback from the NBA. My guess is KJ (Simpson) might do the same. Which is fine. We’ll get that feedback and see what that is and then move forward.”

Hammond benched

Julian Hammond III entered Sunday’s game on a hot streak since filling in for Simpson in the starting lineup the previous four games. Yet against Utah Valley, Hammond came off the bench due to a violation of team rules.

After shooting .512, averaging 15.0 points, and recording 18 assists against only six turnovers in those previous four starts, Hammond came off the bench on Sunday to go 3-for-8 with six points, two assists and two turnovers.

“Julian didn’t start because he was late to a film session two days ago and he was late to practice yesterday,” Boyle said. “Haven’t had an issue all year with Julian or any player on our team. But you have to send a message that being on time is important, and respecting your teammates is important. He failed in that regard, so he didn’t start.”

Lovering finishes strong

After struggling offensively for the first half of the season, sophomore center Lawson Lovering capped a solid stretch run by going 9-for-13 with a career-high 21 points against Utah Valley. He also recorded seven rebounds and a pair of steals.

Lovering finished his first season as a full-time starter averaging 4.9 points and 4.7 rebounds, but over the final eight games he averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds.

“He was playing against one of the best shot-blockers in the country, and I thought Lawson did a great job,” Boyle said. “He’s working on his low post game. I’ve said it all year long, he’s a work in progress offensively. He’s really good for us defensively. But tonight you saw the culmination of the hard work that he’s put in before practice, after practice. There’s a lot of bright spots for this team down the stretch individually.”

Wright sendoff

Fittingly, as the Buffs left the floor, Ethan Wright and Jalen Gabbidon consoled one another with their arms looped around each other’s shoulders.

The two Ivy League graduate transfers struggled adjusting to the Pac-12-level at Colorado, yet both came on strong over the final few weeks. Wright was the offensive bright spot on Sunday, going 4-for-8 with 17 points. Wright averaged just 4.3 points on the season, but he went 13-for-30 (.433) on 3-pointers while averaging 12.8 points over the final five games.

“It’s always frustrating to lose. We were down some guys, so it was my time to step up,” Wright said. “The one thing I can be proud of and happy for is I had some good games toward the end. I stepped up when it was my turn. But it was never really about me. I just wanted to win.”

Added Boyle, “I feel like we let Ethan Wright down. Ethan Wright didn’t let us down. When we recruited Ethan, he was really disappointed he never played in an NCAA Tournament at Princeton. They always lost to Yale, Jalen’s team, and they’ve created such a great bond and friendship. Which has really been neat to see, too. But he came here to play in an NCAA Tournament. We let him down.”

Notable

CU finished the season with 894 field goals, the fifth-most in team history. … With Wright replacing Hammond in the starting lineup, the Buffs used their 10th starting five of the season. It’s the most since Boyle used 11 starting lineups during the 2017-18 season. …. Luke O’Brien matched a career-high with four assists.