Everyone knew there would be changes within the Colorado men’s basketball team this offseason. That starting center Lawson Lovering was the first to hit the transfer portal was a shock to just about everyone that follows the Buffaloes program.
That includes head coach Tad Boyle.
On Thursday, Boyle spoke with BuffZone regarding Lovering’s decision, and he confirmed that Nique Clifford and Quincy Allen also will be leaving the CU program via the transfer portal.
The loss of Clifford, an in-state recruit from Colorado Springs, and Allen were far less surprising than the loss of Lovering, who started 34 of 35 games for the Buffs this season and was consistently lauded by Boyle for his steady defense.
“It was a shock and surprise and I’m still scratching my head a little bit,” Boyle said. “But we’re moving forward. For 24 hours, I was down in the dumps. I was disappointed. I was shocked. Name the emotion, I had it. But today I’m fine. We’re going to be fine. The University of Colorado is a great place to go to school. It’s a great place to play basketball. It’s our job to go out and find somebody who can come in and help us compete for and win championships. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Clifford started all 35 games for the Buffs, but while he may have been a junior, in his second year as a full-time rotation player, he suffered through a classic sophomore slump. While playing almost the exact same number of total minutes as last year, Clifford endured significant drops in scoring average (6.7 to 5.9), rebounding average (4.6 to 3.9), field goal percentage (.453 to .374), 3-point percentage (.400 to .288), and free throw percentage (.667 to .532).
Allen’s departure is the least surprising of the entire trio, as one of the prizes of CU’s highly-touted 2021 recruiting class (Allen was ranked No. 71 overall by 247Sports) appeared in only 11 games, logging more than five minutes just once when he played 17 minutes in a home loss against USC on Feb. 23. In limited chances, Allen shot just .292 overall (7-for-24) with a 3-for-15 mark on 3-pointers. The 6-foot-8 wing missed his entire true freshman season of 2021-22 due to a hip injury.
With the loss of Lovering and Allen, the 2021 recruiting class that was ranked 13th in the nation by 247Sports has been trimmed to KJ Simpson, who earned second team All-Pac-12 honors despite slumping down the stretch and missing the final five games due to mono; Julian Hammond III, whose strong stretch run was waylaid by a violation of team rules that kept him out of the starting lineup in the season-ending NIT loss against Utah Valley on Sunday; and Javon Ruffin, whose future is uncertain as he faces another significant surgery on the same knee that kept him out of the entire 2021-22 season.
“There is not a finer young man, not a finer human being that I’ve ever coached than Nique Clifford,” Boyle said. “He’s given everything in his power to this program and to our coaching staff and to his teammates. Nique wasn’t a good teammate, he was a great teammate. I’ve got a lot of respect of him.
“Quincy wants to go where he feels he can play more minutes, and I totally understand that.”
Given Boyle and his staff over-signed with the three players coming aboard in the 2023 recruiting class, the loss of Lovering, Clifford and Allen gives the Buffs two open scholarships to work with this spring.
Boyle also said two of CU’s walk-ons, Amondo Miller and Monarch alum Greg Gerhardt, have put their names in the transfer portal to gauge any potential offers at lower levels, though the door is not shut on those players possibly returning next season.