The Colorado Buffaloes will be losing another two players, as Nique Clifford and Quincy Allen have joined Lawson Lovering in the transfer portal.
Clifford’s transfer was anticipated by many close to the program, as he struggled in his first season as a full-time starter. The junior wing was the top in-state prospect when he committed in 2020, but he hasn’t be able to combine his apparent skill, athleticism and size into a production basketball player. His shooting numbers fell off this season and he often looked hesitant or timid with the ball, however that could be attributed in part to his inconsistent role as a third- or fourth-option on this team.
Clifford’s role would have diminished next season, when five-star recruit Cody Williams likely would have pushed him into a reserve role. It makes the most sense for Clifford to leave for another program that better suits his strengths as a player. This seems to be a win-win for both player and program, similar to the transfers of Daylen Kountz, Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Jaron Hopkins, all of whom were all-conference at mid-major schools.
Allen’s departure shouldn’t be a surprise either. The top-100 recruit was unable to crack the rotation in his two seasons on campus, partially due to injury and illness, but mostly because Tad Boyle did not think he was reliable or consistent enough to play meaningful minutes. Only when the Buffs were thinned by injuries did Allen play and then it became obvious of why he wasn’t playing. It may sound harsh, but he simply did not play winning basketball at CU. He took a shot almost every time he got the ball, missed his defensive rotations, lost track of his man and jumped at practically anything close to him.
The redshirt freshman is an elite athlete with serious potential, but he was not going to reach that potential under a coach like Tad whose success has been with players who are self-driven, focused and give their all on the defensive end. It’s not as clear where Allen will go after CU, but hopefully he can figure it because he is truly electric when he’s playing at his best.
It’s worth stating that the Buffs were always going to have movement in the transfer portal this offseason. They had two outgoing players (Ethan Wright and Jalen Gabbidon) and three incoming freshmen, meaning that at least one non-senior would have to depart from the program for the scholarships to even out. It also means that one more would have to leave if Boyle decided to recruit an instant impact transfer, which will very likely happen now that Deion Sanders has helped CU loosen transfer restrictions. Allen and Clifford looked like the odd men out, as the former was out of the rotation and the latter didn’t seem like a good fit on this roster.
Now, the third transfer, Lawson Lovering, was a major surprise given his recruitment history, Boyle’s always warm comments towards him, and the fact that the CU defense was built with him as the backbone. While the other two roster spots will likely be upgraded, losing Lovering puts enormous pressure on the coaching staff to find a ready starter who can hold down the defense. Incoming freshman Assane Diop could end up being that starter, but it would be best to recruit a veteran presence to avoid putting Diop in that position if he’s not quite ready.