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Tad Boyle and the Buffs are radiating with excitement in the lead-up to the 2023-2024 basketball season. Last year’s squad was plagued by inconsistencies, turnovers and injuries that delivered an 8th-place finish in the Pac-12 with a regular season record of 18-17. While the arrivals of former TCU Horned Frog Eddie Lampkin and a talented freshmen class led by five-star Cody Williams grabbed the headlines, coach Boyle’s group of five veterans will lead the charge for the Buffs into March.
Tristan da Silva officially announced he would be returning to Boulder at the end of May after receiving NBA Draft interest over the summer and assumed the role of CU’s unquestioned leader.
“I’m leading by example,” said da Silva. “Going out there and putting in the work every single day and not taking time off or being like, ‘I’ve been through this for years. I’m not gonna do this. I’m not gonna do that.’ So I feel like them seeing that, sets the standard. And then being vocal, I know what Coach Boyle wants on the floor and off the floor.”
Da Silva and fellow senior Luke O’Brien were freshmen on Colorado’s 2021 NCAA Tournament team and will be the next seniors that implement the blueprint that has led to so much success for four-year players under Tad Boyle.
“Tristan, and Luke when they were freshmen and sophomores, they had McKinley Wright and Evan Battey,” said coach Boyle. “I mean, who better to learn from how to lead a team and how to compete every day than those two guys and now they’re seniors. And so that’s what I’m talking about. It’s their time now. This year to me is going to be defined by Tristan da Silva and Luke O’Brien.”
Junior guard KJ Simpson battled through injuries and illness towards the end of last season and wants to remind the country exactly what he can do when fully healthy.
“I just noticed a little bit of disrespect, a little bit of forgetting, what I’m capable of and not just me within the team as well,” said Simpson. “We had a lot of injuries, a lot of illnesses that hit this team hard and we didn’t get the year we wanted, so I feel like everybody right now is just in a giveback mode. Especially with the people we’ve added, we’re going to be dangerous.”
Simpson has already proved that he can be a dynamic playmaker on the offensive side of the court but has high hopes for what he will be able to achieve on the defensive side. After Tuesday’s practice, Simpson revealed where earning first-team All-Pac-12 defense honors ranks on his list of personal goals.
“Everybody always talks about how I’m a capable scorer but they kind of limit me to that,” said Simpson. “I’m going to prove to everybody that I am more than just a scorer, I’m all around. But first-team all-defense, definitely man. Other than winning, first-team all-defense is definitely my number one goal.”
Coach Boyle has made defense and rebounding his calling cards at Colorado and spoke highly when it came to this team’s ceiling defensively.
“I like our willingness and certainly our capability,” said coach Boyle. “The one thing if you see this team out there, we’re long. We’ve got great length with this team. We’re still creating some habits there but I liked the defensive potential of this team for sure.”
Former TCU center Eddie Lampkin committed to Colorado in April and echoed the sentiment that coach Boyle has preached to Buff Nation for 14 years.
“The most important thing I say is rebounding and defending,” said Lampkin. “If you do that, nobody can beat you in the country.”
Lampkin has received comparisons to former CU great Evan Battey because of his presence as a big man and the energy that he will provide to the team and crowds at the CU Events Center this winter.
“Nobody in the country can bring it how I bring it so I feel like if I bring my energy and [the team] matches it we can’t get stopped,” said Lampkin.
News of Lampkin’s commitment only fueled the momentum Tad Boyle has brought to Colorado’s program after he received the commitment of five-star freshman Cody Williams last November. While Williams will be under the spotlight however long he’s in Boulder, coach Boyle wanted to stress patience to Buff Nation.
“I want the fans to understand that [Cody] is young and he’s going to make mistakes but he’s going to fight through him,” said coach Boyle. “He’s going to get better, he’s gonna be a heck of a lot better come January, February, than he is today.”
Williams’ five-star ability instantly injects world-class athleticism and ball-handling into Colorado’s lineup but the most impressive thing about the highly-touted freshman is his maturity and willingness to be coached.
“He’s come in with great humility for a guy who’s had all the accolades he’s had,” said coach Boyle. “He’s a great teammate. He’s unselfish. He wants to learn. For us to get the most out of Cody this year, that learning curve, he’s got to conquer it pretty quickly. The good thing is he’s very intelligent.”
While most of the excitement and attention in Boulder is focused on Coach Prime and Colorado’s football team, Boyle’s Buffs could keep Colorado in the national spotlight well after football season. While CU is outside looking in on the preseason AP Top 25, the Buffs are only behind Wisconsin in the others receiving votes category. Despite that, coach Boyle and the Buffs have their sights set on winning the Pac-12.
“We won one our first year in the league, this is our last year in the league, it’s only fitting we go out with one,” said coach Boyle. “But we gotta go make that happen it’s not gonna be given to us. That’s my expectation, compete for a championship, get to the NCAA Tournament then advance and have some fun.”
Fans can get their first taste of the new look Buffs on October 28th when MSU Denver comes to Boulder for an exhibition ahead of November 6th’s season opener at home against Towson. For more on Colorado’s basketball media day, you can watch DNVR’s exclusive interviews with Cody Williams, Tristan da Silva, KJ Simpson and Eddie Lampkin along with coach Boyle’s press conference on our YouTube channel.