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Colorado Buffaloes Basketball: Projecting the Bench Rotation

Evan Battey will be the Buffs’ most vital bench player.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Media Day D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we projected what we think will be the starting lineup for the Colorado Buffaloes in 2018-19. There are many uncertainties yet resolved, but a lineup of McKinley Wright IV (PG), Namon Wright (SG), D’Shawn Schwartz (SF), Tyler Bey (PF) and Lucas Siewert (C) is balanced enough to get the most out of every player. Now we turn to the bench rotation, listed in order of how important their roles are.

F — Evan Battey (Fr.)

The Buffs’ bench will start with Battey. He is without a doubt the most important addition to last year’s team. He was supposed to be a major contributor last year, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible because he repeated 9th grade (seriously), then during his redshirt year, he suffered a medical emergency that clouded his future. Now Battey is finally back, and if he doesn’t receive a standing ovation when he steps onto the floor, the CU fans will have failed themselves.

Battey could possibly start over Schwartz, but for now, he seems better suited as a versatile 6th man who can do everything for the bench unit. He’s a unique big in that at 6’8, 265-lbs., he is highly skilled in shooting and playmaking. When leading the bench, he can lead the offense from the high post. When playing with the starters, he can be a pick-setter and floor spacer with enough ability off the bounce to make things happen himself. Battey is also in the best shape of his life and should have more burst, stamina and defensive aptitude to be solid on the defensive end. Watch for Tad to play him heavy minutes at the center. If he can survive defensively, those should be CU’s most versatile lineups.

Projection: 9.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 53% effective shooting, 16.4 player efficiency rating

G — Shane Gatling (Jr.)

Gatling transfers in from Niagara via Indian Hills C.C. (Iowa) with two years to play. After Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Dominique Collier graduated, Tad Boyle looked everywhere for an instant impact deadeye shooter. They came away with Gatling, who looks to be a deadly, high-volume gunner. (Call him the Gatling Gun, if you haven’t yet.) It’s hard to say how much value he will have as a defender and playmaker, but even if he’s relegated to spotting up, he should be an excellent option off the bench.

Projection: 6.7 points, 1.1 assists, 51% EFG, 12.4 PER

G — Deleon Brown (Jr.)

Deleon Brown is who he is at that point. Brown will be in to play hard-nosed defense and space the floor, and if he is the nominal point guard on bench units, his playmaking responsibilities will probably be secondary to Battey’s. Brown doesn’t have a glamorous role, but quality 3-and-D upperclassmen are an essential commodity in college basketball. If he continues to be a consistent defender, he’s going to earn minutes. Del will make the biggest impact on his team if he adds consistency to his jumper and feels more confident letting it fly.

Projection: 3.8 points, 1.3 assists, 46% EFG, 8.7 PER (PER hates 3-and-D guards unless they’re putting up Klay Thompson numbers)

G — Daylen Kountz (Fr.)

Denver East star Kountz enters his true freshman season with curiosity over his role. At 6’4 with a sweet lefty jumper, he profiles as a skilled player who could contribute immediately on offense if given the chance. Neither Gatling and Brown are natural playmakers, so Kountz’s ability there will probably make him Kin’s primary backup. There are questions about his defense, but if paired with Brown, he should be well hidden off the ball.

Projections: 4.2 points, 0.7 assists, 45% EFG, 8.2 PER

G — Eli Parquet (Fr.)

Parquet already looks like a steal for Tad Boyle on the recruiting trail. After committing to the Buffaloes (over Virginia Tech), he blew up in his senior year and carried his high school team to an undefeated run through the toughest competition in Texas. He comes to CU with a yet defined role, but he has significant upside as a two-way guard who could become a monster defensively. In 2018-19, he could do anything between redshirting and averaging 20 minutes per game, neither of which would surprise. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on for the future.

Projection: 2.1 points, 0.7 steals, 42% EFG, 7.6 PER

F — Alexander Strating (So.)

Dallas Walton’s season-ending injury has likely pushed Lucas Siewert into the starting lineup, and it also means Strating should see consistent minutes for the first time in his Colorado career. The Dutch-born redshirt sophomore isn’t the most talented player on the team, but he’s big (6’7, 230-lbs.) and works hard, so he should be good depth at forward. Besides Jakub Dombek (a complete unknown), Strating is the only big behind Siewert and Battey, so hopefully he will add more than just grit.

Projection: 2.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 52% EFG, 10.3 PER

F — Jakub Dombek (Fr.)

Dombek comes from the gorgeous Czech Republic as a raw talent Bill Grier will hope to refine in the subsequent years. At 6’11, 190-lbs., Dombek is a skilled shooter and works his ass off on defense, but oh my goodness is he thin. For comparison, I’m 6’0, 180-lbs. and my friend called me a twink. If there’s anything stopping Dombek from spending a redshirt season in the weight room, it’s going to be aforementioned lack of frontcourt depth. If Strating struggles or Siewert or Battey miss any time, Boyle may have have to choose between Dombek or playing without a true big man.

Projection: 1.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 46% EFG, 6.8 PER