The basketball season has finally come to its conclusion. With the Pac-12 Tournament and then the CBI, every last possible game (except for, you know, the good ones) was squeezed out of this less than eventful season. For the most part, the Buffaloes did not live up to what everybody expected. It actually reached the point that more people were excited for next year's football season, than this year's basketball season. Nevertheless, there were many players who left everything out on the court this year, and there were even a few who gave us all hope for the future. Now, let's reflect on the most, and least, impressive players from a decent season.
Impressed: Askia Booker
Who else would be number one on this list? In his final season, the captain laid it all on the line this year for the Buffaloes. Coming into the season, there was plenty of speculation on whether or not Booker would be able to facilitate the offense as he had played the two guard for the previous three season. Initially, Ski struggled in his new role. He had one of the worst starts to a season, making only 9 of his first 36 shots. However, he finally began to put everything together against Air Force, where he scored 18 points, dished seven assists, and pulled down four rebounds. After that, Booker never looked back. Ski became the heart and soul of the Buffaloes offense. Every play began with him and nearly every play ended with him. (Whether that was good or bad is another story.) Nevertheless, Booker took charge of the game while he was on the floor and was no doubt the most impressive and consistent offensive player the Buffs had this year.
Regressed: Xavier Talton
At the beginning of the season, I was tremendously excited to see how Xavier Talton would improve and how he would take on a role as a team leader. With a whole summer to transition into being the starting point guard as the team, it looked very promising for XT. With a strong start to the season, things looked even better. Then suddenly, Talton's play completely fell apart during the game at Georgia. For the remainder of the season, he could never recover. Every time he came in, we'd watch him force up off balance, unnecessary shots and give up costly, momentum killing turnovers. Even Talton himself admitted that he struggled this year.
I'm cant even lie...I flat out sucked this year, BUT watch how I come back— Xavier Talton (@x2bigg) March 18, 2015
So, let us see how Xavier Talton does come back. It will be quite a test.
Impressed: Dominique Collier
At first glance, Dominique Collier's numbers don't jump out on the page at you. 4.7 points per game, and 1.5 assists per game seem like more decent stats for freshman. However as usual, stats only can tell so much of the story. Dom improved greatly throughout the season. When the year began, Collier was the skinny kid from Denver with a tough attitude. Now, he is the future of the Buffaloes with a cool and focused mindset. Dom sees the court through a rare pair of eyes. He knows where the ball needs to go, and when it needs to be there. Collier understands how to attack a zone and break it down. While he might not always record the assist, he sets up many baskets, quite similar to a point guard a few years back who wore the number 25. Yes, Dom looks like a young Spencer Dinwiddie sans mustache. He shares that sixth sense to get the ball where it needs to be, and gets it there without fault, and just like Dinwiddie, as CU moves forward the fate the program will rest in Dom's hands. Collier grew up quickly, and he's going to have to continue to grow as he becomes CU's future.
Regressed: Xavier Johnson
Xavier Johnson had his sophomore slump delayed by one year. After receiving the honor be on the All Pac-12 team that traveled to China over the summer, XJ looked like he was bound for Pac-12 honors during the regular season. Johnson began the year dominating as expected. The first sign something might be wrong occurred when XJ was suspended for the San Francisco game for disciplinary measures. At first, the disciplinary measures worked, but, Johnson's errant behavior would return. During the Utah game, XJ sprained his ankle badly. Afterwords, he was not the same, both on and off the court. Johnson kept running into problems off the court with Tad; getting sent home from the Arizona trip, showing up late to practice. Eventually, XJ lost his starting spot to Tre'Shaun Fletcher, and he seemed to give up completely. Each game it looked like he never gave his best effort. Watching Johnson, a supposed leader, decline through the season was nothing short of disappointing. Let's hope he takes a long time this offseason to figure out his problems on and off the court.
Impressed: Josh Scott
Josh Scott kept the middle locked down for the Buffaloes for almost the entirety of the season. Despite dealing with back spasms for a few games, Scott managed to average 14.5 points per game, and grab 8.4 boards a game. He also put up eight double-doubles on the season, the most out of any player on the Buffaloes this year. Scott began the year very strong, but hit a rut following the CSU game. Then, issues with his back kept him out of action for almost all of January. However after he returned from his injuries, Scott built upon each game, and finished season stronger than he started. In the final regular season game, he dropped a career high 32 points, and pulled 12 rebounds. Josh has matured into the powerful senior the Buffs need for next year. He has become impactful on both ends; a main threat to score on offense, and the protector of the middle on defense, averaging 1.8 blocks per game. Scott had an excellent season with the Buffaloes this year, and hopefully he'll carry this momentum into his final year.
Progressed: Jaron Hopkins, Tre'Shaun Fletcher, and Tory Miller
Even though Hopkins, Fletcher, and Miller did not have all-star caliber seasons, the three still came a long way since the start of the season. Fletcher took over the starting roll at the three spot and has found his range from deep. Next year, he will most likely be the Buffaloes best threat to shoot the three ball. Tre'Shaun now looks much more comfortable on the floor. He movements are much more fluid and less mechanical. If Fletcher can improve his handles a bit more in the offseason, he'll become one of the best threats for the Buffaloes next year.
Along with giving us plenty of highlights this year, Hopkins grew into a more mature player too. He improved his ability to drive and finish at the rim as the season progress. He also improved his shooting from the field considerably, as well as his free throw percentage as well. Just like his sophomore teammate above, Hopkins also must work on his handles if he wants to become a real threat. Still, Hopkins has become a better player this year.
Lastly, Tory Miller had an excellent freshman season. With the season over, there is no doubt Miller will be a cornerstone for Colorado in future seasons. As a matter of fact, had he come into his full self a few games sooner, he would have impressed rather than just progressed. The biggest concern for Tory this season was his hands. Too many times he let an easy rebound or pass slip through his hands and end up in a turnover. Nevertheless, Miller seemed to improve upon his slippery hands as the season progressed. With his emphatic poster dunk in the Gardner Webb game, Tory made a clear statement he's now a man, not a boy anymore. If he continues to improve at the rate he's at currently, he will become the next Josh Scott, and then some.
For the rest of the players not on the Impressed or Progressed list, that doesn't not mean they had a bad season. They just did not play at the level needed to say they truly progressed or impressed. In Wes Gordon's case, his off court antics and slip up at the end of the year kept him off the progressed list. Now, the most important aspect for CU is that every returning player must progress. Tad's got eight months to get it done.