The Colorado Buffaloes (5-0) are your 2017 Paradise Jam champions — Jampions, if you will. Here’s what we learned from Colorado’s impressive showing.
1. McKinley Wright and George King are here to lead the team
Throughout the tournament, it was apparent that Wright and King are far and away Colorado’s best players. They carried the Buffaloes throughout and it’s impossible to imagine what this offense would look like without either.
Wright was simply ridiculous as he averaged 19.3 points, 6 assists and 4.7 rebounds. In Game 1, he hit the biggest shot since King forced overtime against Washington State in 2016. In Games 2 and 3, Wright had 16 assists to just 2 turnovers, which is insane, especially for a true freshman playing in his first college games.
King has always been known as a streaky shooter who’s deadly when hot. He was the Buffs’ primary scorer all tournament and he led the team exceptionally well in the final as he had 25 points on an efficient 9-13 shooting (3-6 3-pt., 4-5 FT). King won’t shoot that well all season, but if he can resemble that without disappearing for a game or two at a time, he can be the rock for the Buffs.
2. The Buffs are deep
Wright and King lead the team, but they have excellent support from an 11-deep rotation filled with versatile players. Namon Wright is a great player in a supporting role as a spot-up shooter and secondary playmaker. Deleon Brown looks more dynamic than he ever has and his defense and shooting is crucial. Lucas Siewert and Dominique Collier can stretch the floor. Tyler Bey and D’Shawn Schwartz — we have to find a nickname for this tandem — are superb as hustle-and-defense wings who have enough skill to create offense off the bench.
The only caveat with this team is that Tory Miller-Stewart has struggled starting at the 5. He was solid off the bench the past couple seasons, but his defensive issues have shown up as he’s not big or quick enough to fortify the defense. Hopefully he’ll figure it out before the schedule gets tough or CU may have even more issues on defense and rebounding.
3. These Buffs have some fight
In Game 1, the Buffs were down by as many as 13 points in the second half. They were losing by 8 with 1:33 to play they had a 1.2% chance of winning the game. CU won because this team didn’t give up. They had a sizable lead against Drake and almost blew it, but they refused to collapse like most Buffaloes teams would have. In the championship, Colorado pulled ahead and squashed every Mercer comeback attempt.
It’s obvious that McKinley Wright hates losing more than anything else. George King has a history of stepping up late. Namon Wright, Deleon Brown and Lucas Siewert also made some huge plays late. The attitude of the team is wonderful to see and it’s likely that these Buffs are the toughest since 2012.