Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The 2014 Senior Class

It's another year gone by, and another Senior Day to commemorate.  For the second-year in a row, it'll be a Senior Day spent in celebration of only one scholarship player.  That fan-favorite - the one, the only Ben Mills - joins walk-on Beau Gamble as the lone members of the senior class.  For one last time, that pair will get their due. A final standing ovation for consummate teammates who made an outsized connection with the fanbase.
The two seniors enjoying their ride.  From: the CU Independent.
After the jump, I'll give my thoughts on the careers of both Beau and Ben, while also taking a look at what I best remember from their time here.

Ben Mills - Hartland, WI - 

Lanky, rail-thin Ben Mills came to Boulder as Coach Boyle's first recruit, spurning Boise St to join Andre Roberson in the 2010 recruiting class.  Possessing a quick smile, an affable demeanor, and a 7-foot frame, fans and teammates alike took to him immediately, and he has been the fan-favorite ever since.  No one on the roster gets bigger cheers than Mills when he springs off the bench, a testament to his standing and his, well, standing.
Oh my... From: Allbuffs
I'm still amazed that Mills finished his career in Black and Gold.  The number of times over the last four years that I have heard, definitively, that the Wisconsinite was through with the Buffs, destined to transfer out for some playing time, would boggle your mind.  But, to his credit, he stuck with Boulder despite a paucity of minutes.  Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way, because I really can't imagine this team without him.  He is as much a Buff as anyone.
A fan favorite since the day he stepped on campus.  From: the Post
No, Ben Mills never blossomed into a rotation player for Colorado.  Playing time, however, is not the end all of a player's impact on a program.  As CU grew from a doormat to a power, there was Mills, working hard in practice, and supporting his teammates at every step.  The players love him, and to-a-man sing his praises. Said Josh Scott, "he's probably the best teammate I've ever had."  That's as earnest an honor as you can earn, more valuable than any 1st team selections.

Best remembered for - 


Besides the shake, the's the smile and the baby-giraffe-learning-to-walk running style.  The man brings a smile to your face just by existing, it's a God-given talent.

Best aspect of his game - 

He's really tall.  Simplistic, I know, but what else can you say about only the 3rd 7-footer in the history of the program?  Mills' height gave him an ability to go toe-to-toe with the occasional towering giant, and immediately endeared him to the fans.

Best game as a Buff - 12/7/14 vs Kansas -

Can there be any doubt?  Ben has had had a few moments here and there throughout his career, but only his performance in the Kansas game can truly be said to have made headlines.  Mid-way through the first half, CU was struggling to hold back the KU tide, and looking for answers.  Coach Boyle reached deep into his bag of tricks, and threw Mills and a 2-3 zone at the Jayhawks.  To the surprise and joy of all 11,113 in attendance, the switch worked like a charm, and flipped the game on its head.  Mills would stun Kansas with his four point, three rebound performance in the first half, besting NBA-ready talents like Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis in the process.  For a few minutes, Mills played like the best center on the planet.  It was awesome.

Beau Gamble - Boulder, CO - 

While he is nearly unanimously named as the player with the most school spirit by his teammates, Gamble didn't start his collegiate career in Boulder.  In fact, the Fairview grad started out as a Santa Clara Bronco, where this photo was taken:
Beau apparently enrolled in Santa Clara as a 12-year old, which is quite an accomplishment. From: Santa Clara Athletics

Tired of life in the WCC, Beau came home after the 2011 season to be a part of what Coach Boyle was building at the Foot of the Flatirons.  He had been recruited by Boyle when the coach was still at Northern Colorado, and that tie developed into a walk-on opportunity that Gamble jumped at.  While he would rarely see in-game action over his remaining two years of eligibility, Beau has long been an integral part of the behind-the-scenes chemistry that made the Buffs who they are.  
The struggle is real.  From: Xavier Talton
From a trip to Europe, to a conference title, and back-to-back (-to-back?) trips to the Tournament, he's been a part of one of the best stretches of basketball in school history.  For a kid who grew up wanting to be a Buff, I'm sure it was a magical ride that was worth every hour spent working to keep up with one of the best teams in the country.

Best remembered for - 

Ummm.... #BuffstapeTV, of course!

What I didn't realize before writing this is that Beau had been the master of the interview far longer than any of us in BuffNation had been aware.  Yesterday, the communications major announced that he was foregoing the NBA for a 'real job.'  Hopefully Beau finds a way to stay in front of the camera, because, damnit, he belongs there.

Best aspect of his game - 

When granted some run, you can see that Beau has a decent handle and a respectable outside jumper. Really, though, the best aspect of his game is the way he kept the chemistry flowing behind the scenes. More than that, he was a window into the program for the fans, something I can't thank him enough for.

Best game as a Buff - 2/21/14 vs Utah - 

This one is tricky, since Gamble rarely saw the court.  In honor of his off-the-court contributions to the cohesive energy of the team, I'm going with the Utah game from last year, a game he didn't even appear in. Prior to the start of the second half, Beau charged into the Ute huddle, messing it up and causing a ruckus. The incident is all-Gamble.  Doing everything to keep his teammates loose and fired up.  Oh, and, of course, CU took Beau's example, and dominated the second half. Point: Gamble.

Thank you, Ben and Beau!  True Buffs to the end!

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