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CU Buffs men's basketball team is now focusing on spring recruiting

The last elements of the returning part of the upcoming Colorado men’s basketball team are mainly established, pending a couple of important choices.

The final pieces of the holdover portion for next season’s Colorado men’s basketball roster is mostly set, depending on a pair of significant decisions.

Cody Williams has not officially announced his plan to enter the NBA draft, but it would be a big surprise if he chooses not to go for a likely top-10 selection and stays in Boulder. KJ Simpson's situation is a bit less certain, but he started the season not being considered for the draft and now most mock drafts include him after his impressive season.

After that, the picture is clearer. J’Vonne Hadley, Eddie Lampkin Jr. and Joe Hurlburt are heading to the transfer portal (Lampkin committed to Syracuse on Tuesday night). The remaining underclassmen from this season — Julian Hammond III, Javon Ruffin, RJ Smith, Bangot Dak, Assane Diop and Courtney Anderson — are expected to return, allowing head coach Tad Boyle and his staff to focus on finding recruits in the spring.

“I feel like they’ve got two feet in. I do feel good about that,” Boyle said. “I feel like we’ve got a great, young core of players to build on and build around. We certainly need to add to that this spring in our spring recruiting and we’re actively doing that right now. The bottom line is there’s a lot of upheaval, there’s a lot of turnover in college basketball.

“This is not something we didn’t anticipate. It’s not something we didn’t plan for. You just don’t know what’s going to happen until the season’s over and you sit down with young men and find out what’s important to them, and what do they want to do as they move forward. We’ll continue to work through that process day-by-day.”

With the departure of seniors Tristan da Silva and Luke O'Brien, along with the signing of three 2024 recruits in November (Felix Kossaras, Sebastian Rancik, and ThunderRidge star Andrew Crawford), the Buffs currently have two open scholarships to work with this spring. And one interesting potential option surfaced on Tuesday.

Last fall, CU was a finalist for Trent Perry, a 6-foot-4, four-star guard from the Los Angeles area. Perry visited Boulder in September before choosing USC. Now, in light of former Trojans coach Andy Enfield leaving for SMU, Perry reopened his recruitment. CU has had similar good fortune in the past, with both Simpson (Arizona) and former point guard McKinley Wright IV (Dayton) initially committing elsewhere before coaching changes led them to reconsider their options.

As the Buffs prepare for their return to the challenging Big 12 Conference, Boyle emphasized that reinforcing the size on his roster will be a priority. Diop and Dak are the only post players remaining, but Diop is just 6-foor-8 and the versatile Dak has only 180 pounds on his 6-foot-11 frame.

“Obviously we lose a lot of experience, and we were a senior-laden team,” Boyle said. “Certainly we need that (center) position. But the bottom line is we need good players that can pass, dribble and shoot. That have toughness, have character, are trustworthy. And we need some size. We need some size on the perimeter. And we need some size inside. But the bottom line is, we’re going to try to recruit the best players we can get, and then we will tailor our style of play and what we do schematically, both offensively and defensively, based upon the players we get.

“We're not going to hire someone just because of a specific body shape or role. But we do require some level of bulk. And we really need some previous involvement. So bulk and previous involvement and proficiency, along with personality and strength, are the qualities we're seeking.”

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