BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Tad Boyle could have borrowed a page from the playbook of another Colorado coach and predominately dipped into the transfer portal to bolster his roster.
The thing is, Boyle simply prefers to build his program through the high school/club ranks even as the transfer portal has proven so beneficial for Deion Sanders in restocking the football team.
Boyle, whose team went 18-17 last season, landed a game-changer, too. McDonald’s All-American Cody Williams may just be one of the most celebrated basketball recruits to step onto Colorado's campus since the days of Chauncey Billups. Williams joins forces with preseason All-Pac-12 players forward Tristan da Silva and guard KJ Simpson, who have been molded and mentored by Boyle over the years. Boyle, though, did bring in a transfer in TCU big man Eddie Lampkin Jr. for more size up front.
The expectations run high for the Buffaloes in their last season in the Pac-12 before heading back to the Big 12. Boyle, the program’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach, actually was in charge when the team last played in the Big 12 in 2010-11 (they went 24-14 that season). He’s guided Colorado to nine of its 13 seasons of 20 or more wins in program history.
“I want to see this program get to the second or even the third weekend of March," Boyle said in regard to the NCAA Tournament. "We can have a lot of fun.”
Da Silva has blossomed under Boyle, averaging 15.9 points last season. He’s a prime example of why Boyle prefers to develop from within as he's improved each season.
“When you recruit from the transfer portal, you might get a guy for one or two years. Again, not to say we won’t ever do it, it’s kind of like junior-college players, not to say we won’t ever recruit a junior-college player, but I’d much rather get young kids as freshmen,” said Boyle, who's entering his 14th season at Colorado. “You get to coach them, you get to teach them, our fans get to watch them grow and develop."
There’s no telling how long Williams might be in Boulder. The 6-foot-8 forward is already on the radar of NBA scouts. He’s also the brother of Jalen Williams, who averaged 14.1 points in his rookie year for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.
Cody Williams earned a spot on Team USA for the FIBA U19 World Cup Championships over the summer in Hungary. His coach was Boyle, which allowed them to develop a bond before the season.
Da Silva is the undisputed leader of the Buffaloes. His voice resonates. But he needs leadership help, Boyle conceded, and expects Simpson, Luke O’Brien, Julian Hammond III and J’Vonne Hadley to pitch in.
“I keep going back to those five guys because they’ve been here and done that," Boyle said. "But Tristan is the guy everybody looks to. He’s going to be critical to this team this year.”
Among the starters from last season who departed are guard Nique Clifford (now at Colorado State) and center Lawson Lovering (Utah).
At times, Colorado will be featuring a smaller lineup. They do have two promising freshmen in Assane Diop, a 6-foot-10 forward from Senegal, and Bangot Dak, a 6-9 forward from Nebraska.
“We’re going to space the floor and spread the floor," Boyle explained.
Lampkin averaged 5.7 points and 5.3 rebounds over 67 games with the Horned Frogs.
“Nobody in the country can bring it how I bring it,” Lampkin said of his energy.
The Buffaloes will take part in the Sunshine Slam, where they will play Milwaukee on Nov. 14 and Richmond on Nov. 20. They will face either Florida State or UNLV on Nov. 21. On Dec. 10, Colorado plays in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase against Miami. In between, Colorado has a big rivalry game at Colorado State on Nov. 29.
“Sometimes people look at our nonconference schedule and they think, ‘Oh, you need to play more power (five teams),’” Boyle said. “The teams we’re playing are going to be good teams.”
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