CU Buffs mens basketball notes: Committee approach in backcourt could be on horizon The Denver Post

The loss of Javon Ruffin for the entire 2023-24 season might have sent some shockwaves through Buff Nation.

Yet within the Colorado men’s basketball program, Ruffin’s fate has been common knowledge since not long after his continuing knee issues kept him sidelined for the season’s final seven games. Head coach Tad Boyle and his staff certainly looked at filling the void at the two-guard, nearly signing former Grand Canyon sharpshooter Chance McMillian. Yet the fact the Buffs ultimately used their final 2023-24 scholarship on a forward likely to redshirt, Bangot Dak, is as much a testament to Dak’s potential as it is to Boyle’s confidence in the versatile array of wings on CU’s roster ready to pick up the slack.

Without Ruffin or Nique Clifford, who transferred to Colorado State, the only traditional two-guards on the roster are two players who have yet to play a minute of college basketball — RJ Smith, who redshirted last year as a true freshman, and incoming freshman Courtney Anderson. Yet point guards KJ Simpson and Julian Hammond III have logged time at the off-guard, and Boyle believes the minutes at that spot also will be shared by Luke O’Brien, Tristan da Silva and freshman Cody Williams.

“I’m comfortable because of the guys we have,” Boyle said. “Luke, Cody, Tristan, who’s really shooting the ball well. Julian Hammond, I gained a lot of confidence in him. You’ve got to put five on the floor, but basketball now is more position-less. We can play four out and one in. Sometimes we’ll play five out if Eddie (Lampkin) isn’t on the floor. We’ve got a lot of guys that can shoot threes, spread the floor.

“It’s not about a two-guard. It’s about us having guys that can make shots and spread the floor and attack off the bounce. We’ve got five guys that can play that spot. Practices might be a little thin, but that’s why quality walk-ons like Harrison Carrington and some of the guys we’re going to be adding are key to our practices.”

New experiences

Boyle said he approaches assignments like his current gig as the head coach of the USA Basketball U19 World Cup team as learning experiences. Boyle led the US U18 team to a gold medal last year in the FIBA Americas Championship and will compete in Hungary this week with the same staff in assistants Leon Rice (Boise State) and Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State).

“Leon’s been a good friend for years. Mike, I’ve just gotten to know him the last couple years,” Boyle said. “Terrific, terrific coach. Terrific family guy. Great for young people to be around. I’m lucky to have those guys. We’re all doing it together. I’ve learned a lot coaching FIBA basketball and coaching these players. I’ve always said as a coach I’ve learned more from the players I’ve coached the last 30 years than maybe they’ve learned from me. I continue to learn.”


The US U19 World Cup team, featuring Williams on the roster and Boyle as head coach, begins pool play in Hungary on Saturday against Madagascar at 4:30 a.m. MT. The US plays Slovenia on June 25 at noon and Lebanon on June 27 at 7 a.m. MT. All World Cup games will be streamed at … Boyle won’t be the only coach getting a chance to work with one of his incoming players at the World Cup, as Boynton has an opportunity to work with Oklahoma State recruit Eric Dailey Jr. “Especially since they’re freshmen, they don’t really know us as coaches. They know us as recruiters,” Boynton said. “But now you get to build a bond. Yank them out of games for bad shots and see how they respond. It’s a great opportunity.”

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