Thomas Akyazili, the sophomore guard out of Antwerp, Belgium, will leave the Colorado Buffaloes. Akyazili will return to Europe to play professionally, according to his Twitter announcement.
Akyazili came over to the Buffs and immediately became a fixture in the rotation. He wasn’t always the most polished player, but he brought value off the bench with his energy and physical defense. In his freshman season, he played in 33 of Colorado’s 34 games and averaged 3.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 16 minutes per game.
Coming into this season, there was also considerable hype that his breakout performance with Belgium in the 2016 summer would carry over to the Buffs. Unfortunately, Akyazili badly regressed and seemed to lose all confidence in his jump shot. He shot 41% on twos and 4.8% on threes, and because the opposing defense didn’t necessarily have to guard him on the perimeter, Colorado was basically playing 4-on-5 with him on the court. Given his struggles, it was no surprise to see Akyazili’s role diminish as the season progressed.
Akyazili’s decline was painful to see for many fans who grew to love him the previous season. His energy, hustle and humor will surely be missed in Boulder.
Akyazili leaving Colorado isn’t necessarily bad news for him, since he will be playing professionally in Europe. In addition to making a considerable amount of money there, he will also go back to familiar competition that he has done exceedingly well against in the past.