|Askia Booker will be a sophomore, perhaps one with an increased role with the Buffs this year. (Colorado Athletics)|
In our Trippin' series, we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Check here for all Trippin'-related stories.
Tad Boyle and Colorado won 24 games and earned a surprising trip to the NCAA tournament last season. No one thought the Buffs would be dancing, not after losing Alec Burks and Cory Higgins.
The Buffs lost three starters off last year's group, but Boyle is upbeat and optimistic about his highly touted freshmen class -- which includes six new faces -- especially after the recent overseas trip to Paris, Belgium and Holland.
"We're deep and talented," Boyle said. "I'm really, really excited about the future of our program."
Ditto for Colorado basketball fans.
What Boyle learned: "The reason we went on the trip is because of our big freshman class. We've got a lot of talent, but we don't have consistency. That's not an earth-shattering revelation. Everyone showed why we recruited them, but they also showed that they still have major room for improvement."
Who stood out: "Josh Scott. He led us in scoring on the trip and also averaged seven rebounds a game in the five games. He runs the floor well, can score in the paint and is everything we thought he'd be -- and probably a little more."
Biggest concern: "The fact that Shane Harris-Tunks and Jeremy Adams didn't play. Both are dealing with knee injuries, and both had a chance to elevate their roles and weren't able to."
-- Josh Scott was a huge recruiting coup for Boyle and his staff. The in-state big man from Lewis-Palmer High in Monument, Colo. wasn't recruited heavily because he had a foot injury the summer of his junior season. Pencil him in as the starting big man this season and for however long he remains at CU.
-- Junior forward Andre Roberson is the leading returning scorer and rebounder at 11.6 points and 11.1 boards per contest. Boyle said one of the reasons why Roberson doesn't get his due nationally is because he's not an explosive scorer. "He's one of the best players in the country. His role will expand. He's not a prolific scorer, but he does everything." Boyle said that Roberson's ballhandling and shooting have both improved -- and he'll have the green light to shoot the 3 when he's open.
-- Scott was the most productive freshman on the trip, but Xavier Johnson was a close second. The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 10.2 points and seven boards on the trip. "He played well, especially towards the end. He had a double-double the last game and has a great inside-out game.
-- Boyle also spoke highly of his other in-state frontcourt player, 6-foot-8 Wesley Gordon: "He's going to be terrific."
-- Boyle on unheralded 6-foot-3 California guard Eli Stalzer: "He signed late and is a great program guy. He's solid as a rock and is a tough, tough kid."
-- The area that Colorado will likely struggle early on the season, much due to the lack of experience, is on the defensive end. "We've got a long ways to go," Boyle said. "That's what was great about playing the European teams. They made us pay for our mistakes."
-- With the departure of point guard Nate Tomlinson, the primary ball handler will be natural floor leader Spencer Dinwiddie -- who averaged 10 points last season. Boyle said he'll play four perimeter guys and all of them will be able to make plays with the ball in their hands. "
-- Boyle wasn't able to comment, but the Buffaloes landed another highly regarded prospect
-- 2013 wing Jaron Hopkins out of Arizona. Scott, Johnson and Gordon were all four-star kids. Now Boyle and his staff will set their sights on a pair of in-state guards in the Class of 2014: Josh Perkins and Dominique Collier. Both are legitimate Top 100 kids.