This has been a long time coming, but 2019-20 will be the year D’Shawn Schwartz breaks out. Put it in the books, mark it in your calendars, pin it to the bulletin board, whatever. Just don’t be surprised if the Buffs have a fourth star on the team.
The Buffs’ 2017 recruiting is maybe the best in program history. Tad Boyle brought in McKinley Wright, Tyler Bey, Evan Battey and D’Shawn Schwartz. The four of them will start and each could make it to an All-Pac-12 team this year or next. All of them have broken out and made a name for themselves, except for Schwartz.
There have always been flashes in his game. Somewhere in there, there’s a three-level scorer with enough length and craft to score at will. There are games where an actualized version of Schwartz appears: he’s calm and confident, drives effortlessly to rim, hits a few corner threes, plays heady defense, and finishes the game with 16 points (on +50% shooting), 7 rebounds and 4 assists. But the next game that player is gone and instead he looks afraid to attack the defense. Those flashes became more frequent throughout the season in 2018-19. By the end of the year, the good version of D’Schwartz helped them to a Pac-12 winning streak and run into the NIT.
Between Texas and Shanghai, Tad Boyle said Schwartz was the Buffs’ most improved player. He spent the offseason focused on rounding out his game and actualizing his immense potential. At CU’s preseason scrimmage and exhibition, Schwartz looked more confident and focused, and he played like he’s capable of being a two-way star. He is a vastly improved player from his jump shot to his handles to his one-on-one defense.
Schwartz will ideally be the third or fourth scoring option on offense. Off the ball, he can to space the floor so that McKinley Wright and Tyler Bey can attack the basket. For him to be effective as a shooter, he needs the confidence to let it fly without hesitation. That’s where he is right now, calm and confident, because he knows he’s going to make it.
With the ball, Schwartz is mostly a slasher whose craftiness has always been there. Slashers need a plan, backup options, and zero hesitancy between these decisions. Schwartz is there too, as he knows how to get to the rim, is skilled as a pull-up shooter (mid-range can be valuable shots if you get clean looks), knows where his teammates are if they open up, and he knows that he can make all of those shots or passes. That calm confidence is what will power his breakout. Schwartz knows what he can do, so there’s no more second-guessing when he has the ball.
Defensively, Schwartz broke out last season. Even as his offense was hit-or-miss, he started every game because he’s an excellent team defender. Schwartz knows every rotation and he’s very solid with help defense. He’s not going to cause turnovers like Daylen Kountz or Eli Parquet, but he will always be in position to bother shots and passes with his length. If you built a team of Schwartzes — which might be Tad Boyle’s dream, tbh — you would win a ton of games with defense alone.
A complete breakout for Schwartz would mean everything to CU. We know Wright and Bey will be two-way stars, we know Battey will be one of the most unique players in basketball. But the Buffs still need (1) someone who can consistently hit threes, (2) create offense for himself when Wright or Bey go cold, and (3) lock down the opposition’s best player. Schwartz breaking out would not only solve all three, but teams would have to adjust to him such that the other three stars would be better.