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Buffs Point Guard Spot Could Be 'Three-Headed Monster'

Sep 29, 2021
Keeshawn Barthelemy is the only point guard with experience on CU's roster.

BOULDER — One of the biggest questions facing Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes this year will be who steps in for McKinley Wright at point guard.

Boyle's early answer?

Keeshawn Barthelemy … and KJ Simpson … and Julian Hammond III.

"I look at our point guard position as kind of a three-headed monster," Boyle said Tuesday after the Buffs' first fall practice. "All three of those guys are very capable."

Of course, no one is expecting anyone to immediately step in and completely fill Wright's very big shoes. A four-year starter who rewrote the Colorado record book, Wright was the straw that stirred the drink for the Buffs almost from the time he first set foot on the floor in a CU uniform.

But that doesn't mean the Buffs don't have some talented options — enough so that Boyle is ready to tweak his offensive sets to accommodate having more than one of them on the floor at the same time.

Of the three, Barthelemy no doubt has the early edge simply in terms of experience. After redshirting in the 2019-20 season, Barthelemy played in 30 games last season (one start), and had some big moments down the stretch for the Buffs. He finished second on the team in assists last season with 41 and had a critical eight-point performance against USC in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.

But Simpson and Hammond, both true freshmen, bring impressive credentials and made it clear during CU's Costa Rica tour in the summer that they are ready to earn some playing time right away.

(And if you are wondering whether Boyle is hesitant to put a true freshman into the role of point guard, we need only remind you of his decision to hand the reins to Wright when he arrived on campus.)

"Keeshawn obviously has more of a comfort level in the program and the terminology in everything that we're doing because he's been here for three years," Boyle said. "His comfort level and execution level might be a little bit higher than KJ's and Julian's right now. (But) I look at our point guard position as kind of a three-headed monster. All three of those guys are very capable."

Simpson and Hammond, both 6-foot-2, are two reasons the incoming freshman class is regarded as one of the nation's best. Simpson originally committed to Arizona before signing with Colorado while Hammond was the Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year last season.

"KJ and Julian are going to be big parts of it," Boyle said. "It's not one guy taking over for McKinley. It's not like there's an heir apparent."

Barring a major change, CU's off-guard spot will go to veteran Elijah Parquet, a defensive specialist whose offensive skills could become more important this year. 

Given the talent available, Boyle said CU could switch to a three-guard lineup at times.

"Those guys will sometimes play together in the backcourt," he said. "Eli, obviously we know how good a defender he is. Not that we'll do it all the time, but I look at it as a three-pronged approach."