The Colorado men’s basketball team will likely be somewhat overlooked once preseason prognostications to become more prevalent in a few months. There will be good reason for that.
Leading scorer and Pac-12-leading rebounder Jabari Walker is taking his chances with next week’s NBA draft. The steady and often inspired leadership of Evan Battey is gone, as is his 12.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. The duo that served as the starting backcourt for the bulk of the 2021-22 season, Elijah Parquet and Keeshawn Barthelemy, will play elsewhere this fall.
Tristan da Silva is fine with being overlooked. There has been a glut of unfamiliar faces at CU’s recent summer workouts. Yet there is no shortage of talent.
“Absolutely,” da Silva said when asked if the Buffs are confident of again competing for a top-four spot in the league. “In the Pac-12, anybody can beat anybody. We’ve just got to do our thing and be ready going forward.”
The Buffs are welcoming five new scholarship players to the roster, including incoming freshmen Joe Hurlburt and RJ Smith, Yale transfer Jalen Gabbidon, Princeton transfer Ethan Wright, and junior college transfer J’Vonne Hadley. That list doesn’t include two players, Quincy Allen and Javon Ruffin, set to join the mix after missing the entire 2021-22 season due to injuries.
Da Silva is at the other end of the spectrum, such as it is, for this group of Buffs. No current player has logged more games in a CU uniform than da Silva’s 55, and the continued development of the versatile forward from Germany will be a key component to any Buffs push next season.
“(Summer workouts) are important, just getting out there with the guys and getting adjusted to each other,” da Silva said. “Figuring out what our game is and trying to get that chemistry going. The other guys that are coming in here are new to the system and all that. So starting early, I feel like that will give us an advantage and take the pressure off our shoulders a little bit when the season comes around.
“Everybody is stepping up and I’m trying to be more vocal in the locker room, on the court. Communication is a very important part of leadership, taking on that responsibility. Not only for me, but the whole team.”
Like several off his classmates, da Silva started somewhat slowly last season while adjusting to his new role in the starting lineup. Although he missed two games in late January due to a bout with COVID, da Silva came on strong during Pac-12 play. He finished the season averaging 9.4 points with a .373 3-point percentage, but he averaged 10.3 points with an impressive .477 long-range mark in 18 Pac-12 games. That league total doesn’t include da Silva’s 2-for-4 performance on 3s in two Pac-12 tournament games.
While da Silva went 0-for-5 from the arc in CU’s season-ending home loss against St. Bonaventure, his effort nonetheless may have offered a glimpse of the all-around game the Buffs likely will need to lean upon more next season. Despite the long-range struggles, da Silva went 5-for-5 on 2-pointers and 3-for-3 at the free throw line before finishing with a solid line of 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“We lost two of our best rebounders in Evan and Jabari. That’s definitely something,” da Silva said. “Besides scoring and sharing the ball, that’s a place where we have to step up. There’s some responsibility on everyone in some things, and rebounding definitely is one of them.”