Brooks: 3-For-3 September Bodes Well For CU Hoops
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Score it as a September trifecta . . . or maybe a triple-triple in hoops recruiting. By whatever name, Tad Boyle and his Colorado men's basketball staff have hit it big - again.
In September, CU hoops hosted three official visitors on three different weekends. All three were impressed - so much so that they verbally committed to the Buffs after their visits, then made their choices official by signing and returning national letters of intent on Wednesday's start of the early signing period.
"It doesn't get any better than that," Boyle said of going three-for-three in September with a stellar 2013 recruiting class that adds to the solid foundation he's building in Boulder.
His latest three signees include multi-purpose guard Jaron Hopkins, of Mesa, Ariz.; versatile wing Tre'shaun Fletcher, of Tacoma, Wash.; and combo forward Dustin Thomas, of Texarkana, Texas.
Hopkins' signature on Wednesday made him the fifth Rivals150 national prospect to sign on with the Buffs during Boyle's time in Boulder. In a word - make that four words - Boyle has it going.
His 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes have laid a foundation that doesn't fit CU's previous basketball image. He and his staff have built enough depth to allow a pair of talented members of his 2012 class - Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins - to redshirt this season, essentially joining the three members of the 2013 class.
"You look at that freshman class, especially with Wesley and Chris redshirting . . . holy cow," said Boyle, who is here with his third CU team for this week's star-studded Charleston Classic (the Buffs play Dayton Thursday morning in the first round). "The foundation as far as youth and talent we have now, I look at our roster and see us two-deep at every position with quality - which we haven't had since we've been here. We've had seven, eight, maybe nine guys if they're healthy . . . this class, all of them have the ability to play quality minutes as freshmen."
Boyle called Hopkins, Fletcher and Thomas "quality players, quality people and students . . . they all bring the whole package. We're extremely excited about all three of them, and to me they all bring something a little bit different. But the one thing all three have in common is their skillset. As basketball players they're pretty complete."
With their four-wins-in-four-days run in L.A. last March, the Buffs won the Pac-12 Conference tournament. Boyle knows the league will be more formidable this season than last, and that CU's talent search must keep pace.
"The thing about the Pac-12," said Boyle, "when you recruit Arizona or California or Washington - any of the western states - we're always going to run into other Pac-12 schools. We'll win some recruiting battles, and this year we won three of them - or at least two of the three."
His pair of western 'Ws' were Hopkins and Fletcher, with Thomas being a big 'W' from Texas - a state Boyle and his bunch will never ignore. If Thomas wasn't a Pac-12 target, he was a must-see, must-get prospect in Big 12 country.
"He was recruited by a lot of different schools in that area," Boyle said. "Dustin is a guy, as we look at Andre (Roberson) moving through this program . . . Andre was our last Texan (from San Antonio) and Dustin is our next one.
"But all of these guys are potential impact players . . . Jaron is a big guard who will cause mismatch problems . . . Tre'shaun is a 6-6 wing, a hard-to-find guy with those skills . . . Dustin is the inside-out guy we like to have at the four spot."
A capsule look at each 2013 signee:
Position: Guard (multi-purpose)
High School: Dobson (Mesa, Ariz.)
Vital stats/storylines: Averaged 21.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 0.8 blocks during his junior season at Chandler (Ariz.) Basha High School . . . . Hopkins can shoot, going 60 percent from the field as a junior, including 37 percent from beyond the arc and 57 percent from the free throw line . . . . He scored 20 or more points 16 times last season and led his state's Section II in points, steals and assists in a 22-7 season that saw Basha advance to the second round of the AIA Division I playoffs . . . . Rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, the 29th best shooting guard and the nation's 109th best prospect overall . . . . Other western schools pursuing him included Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State, New Mexico, Boise State, Colorado State, USC and UTEP . . . . He played AAU ball last spring and summer for the Compton Magic.
CU scouting report: A multi-purpose guard who can play the point, the two spot and the wing . . . . Passes, dribbles and shoots at a high level . . . . Strong chance he will be Arizona's player-of-the-year this season as a high school senior.
Boyle's take: "There's not a lot of things he can't do on the basketball court. He's an elite level athlete with a good frame who can run and jump. He's certainly one of the top players in the state if not the top player in the state, in our opinion. Arizona State was heavily after him as well as other Pac-12 schools."
Hopkins' take: "I feel like I fit in with the team and I love the campus . . . I just like the school in general."
High School: Lincoln (Tacoma, Wash.)
Vital stats/storylines: In his junior season, Fletcher was named MVP of the Narrows League, as well as first team all-are and second-team all-state . . . . Averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in Lincoln's 18-8 season . . . . Rivals.com rated him a three-star prospect . . . . Scholarship offers came from Arizona State, Washington State, UCLA, Boise State, Cal Poly, Gonzaga, Oregon State and Santa Clara . . . . Played AAU ball with the Northwest Panthers, whose coach, Gary Ward, called Fletcher "a legitimate 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan . . . he's multi-skilled. He played some one, some two and some three (positions)." Ward also described Fletcher as "crafty" and "sometimes a little too unselfish . . . he is a really good player."
CU scouting report: Lefthander with a great skill package . . . . More of a true wing . . . . Handles ball well and shoots well.
Boyle's take: "He's really a good passer for his position. He's long, athletic, runs the floor well and is great in transition. We think he'll fit in very well with what we're looking to do here. Bottom line is, he can do a lot different things to help you win."
Fletcher's take: "I feel like Colorado is a good fit for me. I love the coaches, the players and the system. I feel like I am a very versatile player. I can guard positions one through three, I can shoot it, I can dribble it and I can pass it. I think colleges like my length, too. I can get in and bang with the fours and fives, too. I just need to put on a little bit more muscle and get my dribbling better and I will be set."
Position: Combo forward
High School: Pleasant Grove (Texarkana, Texas)
Vital stats/storylines: Pleasant Grove won 29 games last season, with Thomas a big reason for the success . . . . He was 3A Region II District 15 MVP after averaging 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals . . . . Made an astounding 48 percent of his three-point attempts . . . . Rivals.com ranks him as a three-star prospect . . . . Schools offering him a scholarship included Oklahoma, Texas-Arlington and Lehigh, with interest being shown by Kansas State, Texas, SMU and Tulsa . . . . Pleasant Grove coach Billy Brewer said Thomas is very comfortable shooting from behind the arc: "Three-point range is pretty easy for him. We run a motion offense and we are going to run until they get the ball in his hands . . . Dustin can also dribble penetrate and he can go in the post. He can do whatever he wants to do so we try to get the ball in his hands."
CU scouting report: At 6-7, probably not as explosive or as athletic as Andre Roberson, but shoots the ball extremely well from the perimeter and can put the ball on the floor . . . . Can play inside and out . . . . Plays with extraordinary energy and can rebound.
Boyle's take: "The thing that makes Dustin special is his love for the game, his motor. And shooting, he can really stroke it. But what sets him apart is his love for the game. Every time I talk to him he's going to the gym or on his way back. There's not a day that goes by that he's not trying to get better as a basketball player. I think if anything we've got to kind of tone him down a little; he loves the game and his desire to be great is unquestionable."
Thomas' take: "Going up there (to visit Boulder), I didn't know what to expect. Everything about Colorado was perfect. It is like a big family out there. At first, I didn't even think Colorado would have been where I would choose to go. But once I got out there, it completely turned my impression about it. I loved everything about it. The players made me feel like family. The coaching staff was just real up front and I trust them . . . They won the Pac-12 last year and you can tell the fans really show them a lot of love. It is just real fun to be around it and I wanted to be a part of that."
(Some information in this report was provided by Rivals.com)