Even with Jabari Walker’s will-he-or-won’t-he decision still hovering over the Colorado men’s basketball program, much of the heavy lifting on the spring checklist has already been handled.
The recent additions of 2022 freshman forward Bobby Klintman and Princeton transfer Ethan Wright could signal the finalization of the 2022-23 roster, even if Walker ultimately chooses to forgo his remaining eligibility and remain in the NBA draft.
While head coach Tad Boyle does not typically shut the door on any opportunity that may unfold in terms of recruiting, there is a very real possibility Boyle might put into his back pocket the scholarship that would open up if Walker decides not to return.
The Buffs went into last season with an open scholarship as well (eventually it was awarded to walk-on Will Loughlin at midseason). Although a 13th scholarship player might have been useful in a season that saw an unusual glut of injuries that sidelined two players the entire year (Quincy Allen, Javon Ruffin) and two others the final half of the season (Elijah Parquet, Lawson Lovering), maintaining an open slot provides an advantageous level of flexibility in the transfer portal era.
Omitting Walker until his status is clarified, and with the disclaimer that many CU players can fill multiple roles, here is the current breakdown of the 2022-23 roster (scholarship players only):
1 guard: KJ Simpson, Julian Hammond III.
2 guard: Nique Clifford, Javon Ruffin, Ethan Wright, RJ Smith.
3 forward: Luke O’Brien, Quincy Allen.
4 forward: Tristan da Silva, Joe Hurlburt, Bobby Klintman.
5 forward / center: Lawson Lovering.
With the roster largely intact, one of the next priorities for the Buffs will be finalizing the 2022-23 non-conference schedule.
Much of that slate has already been settled. The Buffs will play three games at the Myrtle Beach Invitational on Nov. 17-20 against a field scheduled to include Boise State, Texas A&M, Loyola Chicago, UMass, Tulsa, Charlotte and another team still to be determined.
The Buffs will complete their three-game series against Tennessee in a showdown in Nashville likely to be held in November. CU will also travel to Grambling for the first time as part of the inaugural year of a scheduling and educational partnership with the Southwestern Athletic Conference. That game will be held Nov. 10-13, with Grambling scheduled to visit Boulder the following season.
That will likely be the extent of the away-from-home portion of the non-conference schedule, so the Buffs will be tasked with filling the early home dates. While the home date against Kansas that was canceled amid COVID concerns in December is unlikely to be made up next season, as previously reported by BuffZone the latest contract with Colorado State will conclude in Boulder next season. A CU source confirmed a national report on Monday indicating the date of that game will be Dec. 8.
The Pac-12 announced in March the matchups for the early-season, stand-alone opening conference games, with the Buffs scheduled to host Arizona State on Dec. 1 and visit Washington on Dec. 4.