Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
The Pac-12 Champs return key players that will need to step up for Colorado to make consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
As the basketball season gets one day closer, it's time to look at the returning players for the Colorado Buffaloes. Andre Roberson, Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie headline the returnees, however, Sabatino Chen, Shane Harris-Tunks, and possibly Jeremy Adams (if he can return from injury) are going to have to contribute for this team to have the success they want.
Andre Roberson, Jr. 6'7" 210 lbs. (11.6 PPG 11.1 RPG)
Roberson returns to this Buffaloes squad as the consensus best player. Roberson is quietly building a national reputation as one of the premier players in the country and he's arguably the best rebounder in the country. Last year, Roberson was the second most efficient defensive rebounder in the country only behind Kansas forward and current Sacramento Kings forward Thomas Robinson. In his sophomore campaign, Roberson registered 401 total rebounds, third best in the NCAA and first in the Pac-12. It's safe to say Roberson is really really good at defense and rebounding. He's also a tremendous shot blocker, and most of the time blocks it to a place where he or his teammates can get it. His timing and leaping are hard to match as he puts together highlight dunks every night and seems to tip rebounds to himself all the time whether they are offensive or defensive.
The question with him this year is offense. He scored last year, but it was mostly in transition and on put backs; there would be the occasional jumper, post-bucket and three-pointer, but he wasn't a focal point of the offense in the half-court set. Roberson has worked this offseason to develop his outside shot and ability to drive to the hoop and only time will tell if he can become an offensive force in the Pac-12. If he does this, look for him to rise on draft boards and become a lottery pick in next year's NBA Draft. Roberson will likely start the season at the four, but could see time at the three as that seems to be his projected position at the next level.
Askia Booker, So. 6'1" 170 lbs. (9.1 PPG 2.7 RPG)
Last year, Booker flourished in the sixth man role, but now will have to make his presence felt in the starting lineup as he will start at the two guard. Booker was an excellent sixth man last year providing that instant spark off the bench that was necessary game after game. Booker brought speed and quickness to this Buffaloes team and become very effective hitting the free throw jumper and step back three. His decision making was not always on point, as he tended to make some careless turnovers. However, he was no stranger to the big moment as a freshman as he put up 16 points against UNLV and 15 points against Baylor in the NCAA Tournament last year. This year, Booker will need to step up as a leader and team up with Spencer Dinwiddie to create a lethal backcourt in the Pac-12. He has the talent and athleticism to make a major impact for the Buffaloes.
Spencer Dinwiddie, So. 6'5" 190 lbs. (10.0 PPG 3.6 RPG)
The Pac-12 Conference All-Freshman Team guard was instrumental in Colorado's run in the Pac-12 Tournament last year. He was also an impact player for the Buffs game in and game out last year providing stability at the off-guard position as a freshman. Dinwiddie shot 43% from beyond the arc, 40% from the field, and 81% from the free throw line last season, a very difficult feat to accomplish for a first year player. For the most part, Dinwiddie was a very good on-ball defender and should be improved this year as he added muscle in the offseason. That added weight will also help Dinwiddie when driving to the lane. At times last year, he would get pushed around in the lane and was unable to score inside. More importantly, this year, Dinwiddie is the starting point guard and will have complete control of Tad Boyle's offense. All signs point him to having a better year than last year as he's had a full offseason at the college level and is poised to take control of this team.
Sabatino Chen, Sr. 6'4" 190 lbs. (2.0 PPG 1.0 RPG)
The only senior on this Buffaloes team, Sabatino Chen will be counted on by Tad Boyle this season. Chen is one of Boyle's favorite players, but he looked outmatched at the college level last year. In the offseason, Chen improved his outside shot, but once games start, it'll be interesting to see if this remains true. What Chen brings that no one else does is that hustle player mentality. Anything Tad Boyle needs Chen to do, he will. Chen has perserved throughout his whole college basketball career, and now being the only senior on this team it's fitting that he will have to step up and be that sixth man off the bench for the Buffaloes.
Shane Harris-Tunks, Jr. 6'11" 250 lbs. (2.7 PPG 2.2 RPG)
Harris-Tunks was certainly an interesting player for the Buffaloes last year. With his nagging knee injuries, Harris-Tunks looked very slow and his lack of athleticism and quickness affected his play. However, as the year progressed, Harris-Tunks finally found a jump-hook that wasn't pretty, but effective. He kept working and was a needed big man off the bench who provided some decent help and post-defense. Harris-Tunks has competition this year coming off the bench with the presence of freshman Wesley Gordon, but experience should allow Harris-Tunks to be the first big off the bench. If he can provide some points off the bench and good defense all year long, Buff fans should be pleased.
Jeremy Adams, Jr. 6'5" 220 lbs. (2.3 PPG 1.4 RPG)
Adams' season was filled with ups and downs last year. He was diagnosed with diabetes and also started off the season injured, which caused major problems for him as he could never get consistent minutes. When he played, he provided limited offensive production, however, Adams was a good defender last year and although he fouled at times, he had active hands and played good on-ball defense. It remains to be seen whether Adams will impact the team this year as he is already scheduled to sit out Friday's game against Wofford with a knee injury. If he can come back fully healthy, he might help this team more than some believe.