College basketball is finally upon us.
Colorado will have its first official practice of the season on Monday morning. There's plenty of optimism surrounding Tad Boyle's team, and deservedly so.
The Buffaloes return four starter's from last year's 21-win NCAA Tournament team. Junior guards Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie form an elite backcourt duo for Colorado. Sophomore forwards Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott also return after starting as freshman. But how will this year's team perform? Here are three storyline's heading into the first practice for Colorado:
Who's the fifth starter?
Replacing Andre Roberson, Boyle's first recruit at Colorado, will be no small feat. In just three seasons, Roberson corralled 1045 career rebounds, placing him second all-time at Colorado. It's what got him drafted 27th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Additionally, Roberson was a stout defender. So who will be Colorado's fifth starter?
Redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins figure to be the leading candidates. If Colorado wants to go big, then Gordon is the answer. Gordon is a 6-9 defensive-minded power forward who would be an excellent complement to the offensive-minded Scott. If Colorado wants to go small, then Jenkins would be a good choice. Johnson is capable of playing power forward, which would allow Jenkins to play small forward. Jenkins has been described as a good shooter, so he would fit in well by stretching the floor for Colorado. Subsequently, whoever doesn't win the starting job among Gordon and Jenkins will likely be appointed the first player off the bench, so both players will get plenty of playing time.
How deep will Boyle's rotation be this year?
Last year, Colorado's rotation went six deep. Once Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup, Sabatino Chen became the team's sixth man. Chen played 23.4 minutes per game for the season. The next Buffalo with the highest minutes logged was Jeremy Adams (who transferred to Grand Canyon) at 11 minutes per game. What will this year's rotation look like? As mentioned earlier, Gordon and Jenkins have a year in Boyle's system under their belts, and they figure to demand playing time. Returning reserves Ben Mills, Xavier Talton and Eli Stalzer also return and could potentially crack the rotation. And there are also four freshmen on the roster.
Which true freshman will make the biggest impact?
Tre'Shaun Fletcher, Jaron Hopkins, George King and Dustin Thomas are Colorado's four true freshmen. This freshmen class is very versatile, which has become a very common staple among Boyle recruits. Fletcher and King are listed as guards/forwards an Hopkins as a guard "who can play the point, the two spot and the wing," according to Boyle on the team's website. And Boyle says Thomas is an "exceptional shooter for big." Fletcher was the highest-rated recruit of the bunch out of high school and figures to receive the most playing time among the true freshmen. The Tacoma, Washington native was rated a four-star recruit by scout.com and 90th in the class of 2013. But with 40 days till Colorado's first game against Baylor, there will be plenty of opportunities for all four newcomer's to make their case for playing time.
Stay tuned to BuffPlayBook.com for complete daily coverage of Buff Basketball practice and much more.