Well, we've all heard the news. Jaron Hopkins is officially leaving the team. I'll miss his boundless athleticism and his penchant for jaw-dropping plays, but his development didn't go as quickly as Tad Boyle and the fans wanted. He was about the same player this year that he was last year, and he was always more of an athlete than a player on the court. I wish Jaron the best wherever he goes, and I thank him sincerely for this. However, it seems as if we have already filled his scholarship hole. This week, it was reported by multiple outlets that Derrick White, UCCS's star player, is visiting CU and is expected to join the Buffs, according to his coach. So who is this mystery player? How does he play? Is he a cat guy or a dog guy? Hopefully, the answer to these questions lies below.
Derrick White- The Vitals
Class: Incoming Senior
Career- 22.0 PPG, .488 FG%, .319 3PT%, .828 FT%, 5.9 RPG, 3.94 APG
Season- 25.8 PPG, .529 FG%, .336 3PT%, .838 FT%, 7.4 RPG, 5.18 APG
Derrick White - The Player
White has really maximized his time with the Mountain Lions. Starting his freshman year at 6'1 and 165 pounds, he has grown physically and as a player during his three years there. A local product at Legend High School, he had pretty good stats but was too skinny and too small to be considered for any sort of big time program. UCCS jumped on the underappreciated guard and the rest is history. A smooth offensive player, White has the skill set to score from anywhere on the court from any starting position. He can create off the dribble, slash from the perimeter, or make his cuts to get open. While it's not his specialty, he can also shoot the three competently, something that's needed on this Buff squad (though less so with Josh Fortune in the mix). He finishes at the rim through contact and keeps his head up on his drives, leading to some nice interior passing showcased in his highlights. Most importantly, he draws fouls. Given his 82% clip from the line, that not only gives the team 2 free points, but softens the defense and eventually makes them play passively due to foul trouble. White isn't the explosive athlete that Jaron is, but he can get up and it's certainly not a liability in his game. Keep in mind, all of these traits were showcased against D2 competition, and while Metro State and Colorado School of Mines are great programs, arguably better than junior colleges, it's a huge leap from Colorado Springs to Boulder. It is very suspect that White can contribute in a big way immediately. Tad has taken a risk with White, and because he only has one year of eligibility, it is very much boom or bust with him. Letting him develop isn't an option, and patience isn't allowed with a pseudo-grad transfer like White. However, he has shown an ability to help this team immediately on offense. It's the other side of the court that worries me with Derrick. The limited highlights on YouTube showed very little on ball defense, probably for good reason. I'll venture a guess and say that a lockdown perimeter defender Derrick White is not. His frame shows promise for defense, but there is a reason he went D2, and based on his offensive stats, it wasn't because of his scoring ability. However, the positive spin is his help defense, which was basically non-existent on CU's squad last year. Multiple times during the few videos of his game that I was able to watch White would fly in after a player made his move in the post and send the shot back. That alone shows awareness and a team mentality that simply wasn't there very often for Tad's team.
Derrick White - The Verdict
White brings a lot of good things to the Buffaloes, but we the fans can't expect him to blow us away. If he can average around 8-12 points a game, hustle on both ends of the floor, and play within the offense, that would be absolutely lovely. That gives CU a legitimate scoring option of the bench and a big(ish) body who draws fouls, which hasn't happened since Spencer Dinwiddie left. The more realistic option is 5-9 points a game, a few fouls drawn, and some defensive lapses while moving the ball on offense. Make no mistake, I like the pickup for Tad (if it does in fact become a pickup). One trend with these offseason recruiting pickups is the valuation of skills and fundamentals over athletic potential. I think that White and CU could benefit from a redshirt year, it gives Derrick the chance to adjust from the D2 level of competition to the PAC-12 and gives Tad time to "break him in", so to speak. But that means spending two scholarship years on a player who is already a risk. That may not be worth it. White is able to help this team immediately, and if he ends up being able to transfer with no risk of sitting out, I'm sure Tad will be jumping for joy. Let me know your thoughts on White in the comments below.