Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Transfers On My Mind

As @EricMetcalfe helpfully pointed out, today is the 6-year anniversary of Tad Boyle being announced as head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.  What a day that turned out to be for this program!  Basketball in Boulder has never been the same; the program that is almost unrecognizable from the program that was.  In just over half a decade, Coach Boyle has brought us all to the point where we're disappointed by a first round exit in the NCAA Tournament.  Yo, that's quite a transformation.  Good hire, Mike Bohn.  Good hire.
Wow, has time flown.  From: the BDC
For those adventurous few interested, I've linked to my article from that day here.  It is... not good.  But it will at least give you a sense of the optimism and hope I felt at the time of the hire, while at the same time shedding a tear for the deserved Steve McClain (since banished to the veritable basketball wasteland that is UIC).  Luckily for us Buffs, Alec Burks came back, and all questions of 'what if' have since been erased.

Anyways, happy anniversary, Coach Boyle!


Today in the bag, I only got two topics, and both of them are about transfers.  I'll start off with the Davis Webb 'thing,' before finishing with a basketball transfer roundup.

Click below for the bag...

The Davis Webb saga - 

Back in the heart of basketball season, Colorado Football broke through with some truly fantastic news: former four-star QB recruit Davis Webb was transferring to Boulder from Texas Tech to be a part of the ongoing rebuilding project.  It was a blast of positive energy, roundly welcomed, as the Buffs had a big question mark under center with the lingering injury concerns of Sefo Liufau.  Webb appeared to be the answer, the capable gun-slinger who could play right away and lead CU back to respectability and a bowl for the first time in a decade.  Even just a month ago, interviewers found him to be very excited about his Colorado future, and rearing to get to town.  Thumbs up all around, can't wait for the season to start!

Then... some interesting tidbits started to hit the interwebs.  First, it broke that Webb was visiting Cal.  Then came a disputed claim that Davis was also planning a visit to Auburn.  What's going on?  How is this graduate transfer, seemingly already in the fold and planning his first steps in a Colorado uniform, suddenly looking elsewhere? Did the Buffs fail, yet again, on the recruiting trail?
So, is Davis Webb still a Buff, or what?  From: the BDC
The most obvious thing that happened between March and the middle of April is spring practices commenced across the country.  Coaches got a look at their rosters for the following season for the first time, and started to eye some holes.  Apparently, coaches in Berkeley, CA and Auburn, AL noticed a prominent one at the heart of their offense, and started to look for outside assistance.  As Webb was 'committed,' but not yet obligated or signed, to Colorado, it seems that a few phone calls were placed. Maybe, during that same time, Davis also got a look at the practices in Boulder, heard that Liufau could still come back in time for the 2016 season, and started to get some cold feet over his months aged decision.

From there, it just got silly.  Grown men stalking his twitter account (#NeverTweetAtRecruits) and freaking out over pinned tweets and background images.  Reactionary columns in the Daily Camera saying the Buffs should just bolt if Webb won't deal straight.  Posters on CU forums saying they never thought Webb was that good anyway, and that the Buffs are better off without him.  Generally, a blitzing version of the stages of grief, played out in real time, even if no official announcements had been made.

For me, I just kind of shrug.  I have no doubt that Webb would be an upgrade for Colorado under center, and that he would make the Buffs better this fall.  I also know that football recruiting, more than any other sport, is a skittish, fleeting phenomena, with reversals and flips as common as the tired old penny.  Even more, the world of transfers, especially those able to play right away, like Webb, has long been akin to professional free agency, only spiced with that special zaniness that comes from following collegiate sports. In these cases, I never expect anything of players until I actually spot them in Black and Gold, and was reserved about Webb, just from the stand point that nothing was official until he was actually enrolled in school... and even then...

At least in this circumstance, there's still room for hope.  After a fresh visit from Mike MacIntyre and crew, an article on 247 sports ran today, quoting Webb as saying:
“I’m still committed to Colorado. I love them. But I only get one shot at this thing. I’m not like most grad transfers who get two years. I have six months of college football, and I want to make sure it’s the spot for me. That’s why I took another visit.”
A perfectly reasonable strategy - usage of the laughable recruiting term 'committed,' aside - that no one should begrudge him for.  He's absolutely right, Davis should make sure Boulder is the right spot for him.  It's his life, and he will only get one shot at it; better make it a good one.  The language, at least, leaves CU a strong possibility, even if many behind the scenes say it's a done deal that the young man is going anywhere but Boulder this fall.  We'll all just have to wait and see.
To be, or not to be.  From: his twitter account.
From a CU-centric viewpoint, however, this whole situation is a black eye for the Buffs and the coaching staff, regardless of the final outcome.  Even if Webb stays 'committed,' they will have lost one transferring QB only to turn around and nearly lose another.  If the worst happens... to lose a pair of promising quarterbacks in the span of only a few months is a recruiting disaster, one that this staff may never come back from.  This has to be a statement campaign from Mike MacIntyre and crew, from start to finish.  That shiny new practice facility looms large; results now have to justify the outlay, and the Webb fiasco is not a strong start.

Tad Boyle continues search for new Buffs - 

Speaking of transfers, Tad Boyle and his BasketBuffs have been very active on that front in their search to fill a pair of vacancies on the 13-man roster.  The opening day of the late signing period has come and gone, and no word has come, yet, about top-150 recruit Lucas Siewert, but the transfer wire remains active, with CU reaching out to at least four big name targets.  Infusing your roster with veteran talent has become part and parcel of the basketball scene in recent years, and the Buffs look to take major advantage in preparing for the 2016-17 season a little early.

Reportedly, the Buffs have reached out to Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt, Drake's 7-foot center Dominik Olejniczak, Tennessee forward Ray Kasongo, and Louisiana Tech wing Dayon Griffin.  There are probably others, but these are the ones that have made their way to the public sphere.  Any would be a strong addition to the roster, and the set shows a strong indication of which way Coach Boyle plans to go with his scholarships (a wing and a big).  Notably, none are graduate transfers who can play immediately, meaning this is all about a long view.
Whitt would look good in Black and Gold.  From:
Of the grouping, Whitt, a sophomore to be, seems to have drawn the most interest within the fan base, and rumors of his potential transfer to Boulder have been hot and heavy since late March.  The #55 recruit in the class of 2015 was, in fact, supposed to be in town this past weekend on a visit, but that was, unfortunately, forestalled by the snow storm.  Whitt, instead, visited NC State, postponing his Colorado visit a bit. Combined with the interest in the defensive-minded Griffin (would be a junior), you can tell Boyle and staff are eager to shore up the guard corps, which showed a number of issues this past season.  The concern isn't for next year, with the wing position held down by Derrick White, George King, Josh Fortune, Xavier Johnson, Bryce Peters, and Deleon Brown.  No, the concern is for the following season, when the talent on the wing will thin out dramatically with the graduation of White, King, and Johnson.  Adding either Whitt or Griffin would be a bulwark against that pending difficulty.

The remainder of the attention is, deservedly, being spent in the paint, where lack of depth at the forward slots could imperil the roster going forward.  Either of Olejniczak and Kasongo would staunch wounds quickly, joining Tory Miller and Dallas Walton in future campaigns.  The specter of Olejniczak (pronounced o-lyn-ah-check), a true seven-footer sophomore to be with some intriguing skill, is high on my list, but the bullish form of Kasongo (would be a junior), fresh from Power 5 wars in the SEC, could make an equally large impact.  Additionally, either would help balance the class makeup of the roster, fitting in between Miller and Walton on the breakdown. Siewert still looms here, and he would actually be able to play this upcoming season, which is a strong factor in making him my preference.
... as would Olejniczak. From:
Now, while the football recruiting game sees most of its intrigue after a commitment has been made official, in the basketball world, flipping commits is much less frequent, and, indeed, more of a rarity (baring a massive change in fortune on the AAU circuit or an injury).  That is to say, when we hear someone is going to be a Buff on the hoops side, you can pretty much write it in stone.  Pending a decision by Siewert, I expect news on this front sometime over the next month, probably sooner, rather than later.  For my money, I think Whitt is the strongest possibility, as the Buffs recruited him out of high school, as well, but you never know.

Happy Tuesday!

1 comment:

Claroofus Jones said...

Hi, Rumblin,

George King has 2 years left. Other than that, an excellent and (it turns out) prescient column since we signed Lucas Siewart today.

Aso, just because I cannot help myself, you wanted to use the word "stanch" there as a way to control bleeding. But your writing is continuing to improve. You are already better than the Camera dude.