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How J'Vonne Hadley's road through junior college made him a difference-maker for Colorado

Jake Schwanitz Avatar
December 1, 2022

J’Vonne Hadley’s journey to Boulder took a couple of detours through Northeastern and Indian Hills Community College but this season he has cemented himself as one of Colorado’s more impactful players.

Coming into 2022-2023, Colorado had to replace starters Jabari Walker and Evan Battey after both moved on to the next level. Head coach Tad Boyle was vocal in the lead-up to this season about how this year’s team would make up for those losses in the rebounding department.

Through seven games, Hadley’s toughness and physicality have allowed him to lead the team with 40 rebounds.

That stat looks even more impressive when you factor in a shoulder sprain Hadley suffered against UMass. That injury sidelined him for the win over #24 Texas A&M as well as the loss against Boise State where the Broncos outrebounded the Buffs 25-24.

Last Sunday, Hadley returned to the floor against Yale helping the Buffs grind out a win and give the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.

After Wednesday’s practice, J’Vonne Hadley spoke to DNVR about his injury, the season to this point and the future for Colorado.

“It’s something that’s going to linger for a while,” Hadley said about his right shoulder.

Despite the limitations of his shoulder, the transfer from Indian Hills Community College says it’s not affecting his style of play.

“I’m still playing like myself,” Hadley said. “I don’t want to really change the way I play. Especially because the way that I play, I feel like I help the team so I don’t want to change anything up.”

Hadley’s experience at junior college instilled him with exceptional toughness that is permeating its way throughout Colorado’s roster.

“To thrive at a junior college, you need to be tough, regardless of your position, height or weight,” Hadley said. “You just have to be tough and physical overall. I took a lot of that with me here and it’s benefited me a lot.”

When he was being recruited by Colorado, the 6-foot-6 junior knew he would have a role this year but he didn’t expect it to be as a starter this early in his Buff career.

“I had to get a little bit bigger, so I was getting in the gym every day,” Hadley said. “I put on around 10 pounds of muscle since I’ve been here. So all the dominoes are kind of falling my way right now, I’m extremely grateful for that.”

Hadley mentioned Director of Strength and Conditioning, Steve Englehart, and his track record of developing players as one of the reasons why he chose Colorado. With commits Cody Williams and Assane Diop joining the program next season, Hadley understands why next year’s incoming freshmen wanted to join the Colorado basketball family.

“I saw that Cody said, it’s not about all the glitz, glamour and all the big things others have, it’s more about developing and being in a winning program because this is a winning program,” Hadley said.

“Steve is a great development guy, I talked to Assane a little bit and he’s really big on developing. I feel like that’s a key reason why you commit here. I’m not gonna speak for him but I feel like that’s a big reason, the developmental program.”

Hadley’s development has been and will continue to be crucial to Colorado’s success this season but the team has been hamstrung by inconsistency.

“Our up and down nature is something that we’ve talked about every day at practice and in the film room,” Hadley said. “It’s something that we all understand, consistency is a big thing that we need to work on.”

Colorado will need Hadley’s infectious play style and inspiring toughness as they weather the early season storm and attempt to right the ship.

Colorado’s inconsistency on both sides of the floor has been the story of the season so far. In CU’s four wins the Buffs have a field goal percentage of 47.5%. In their three losses, Colorado hit 36.7% of their shots from the field. When tallying up all seven games, the Buffs rank 256th in the country in field goal percentage (42.8%).

“Our guys know inconsistency is our Achilles heel right now,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “We can fix that. We have to fix it. They have to fix it.”

The Arizona State Sun Devils come to Boulder on Thursday night as the Buffs try to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

Tip-off from the CU Events Center will be at 6:30 p.m. and the game will be aired nationally on FS1.

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