Patton Praises Newest Buffaloes

Colorado basketball coach Ricardo Patton met with members of the media Tuesday to talk about the Buffs' 2006 recruiting class. Patton called it the best group since he's been at Colorado. Inside, quotes from Patton's press conference.

Colorado basketball coach Ricardo Patton met with members of the media Tuesday to talk about the Buffs' 2006 recruiting class. Patton called it the best group since he's been at Colorado. Inside, quotes from Patton's press conference. NOTE: Colorado has eight scholarships to give for the incoming class. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Patton spoke about five players the Buffs have signed during the early signing period, which ends Wednesday. He said there was a sixth player that will sign, but he couldn't yet talk about him because CU hadn't received his paperwork.

The seventh scholarship, as expected, will go to Ohio State transfer Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, who is practicing with the team this year as he sits out a transfer season. Patton said they will use the eight scholarship to sign either a high school or junior college big man in the late spring signing period.

Here are the signees Patton spoke about:

Sean Kowal, 6-10, 240, C, St. Louis (De Smet), Mo.
Xavier Silas, 6-5, 205, G, Austin (Stephen F. Austin/Brewster Academy), Texas
Dwight Thorne, 6-3, 185, PG, Arlington (Martin), Texas
Dale Vanwright, 6-6, 200, G/F, Houston (Bellaire), Texas
Jeremy Williams, 6-7, 210, F, Memphis (Hamilton), Tenn.

Opening Comments
Ricardo Patton:
My staff did a tremendous job in landing what I think is the best recruiting class that we've had in a very long time. Or, since I've been here, it's the best recruiting class that we've had.

On Dale Vanwright
I'll start out by talking about the guy that committed to us first, Dale Vanwright. He's 6-6, 200 pounds, a small forward out of Houston Bellaire High School. They're currently ranked No. 21 in the country. Just a tremendous basketball team. When you recruit, you like to recruit guys from winning programs, guys that know how to win. We often say the thing you learn from winning is how to win. Unfortunately the thing you learn from losing is how to lose sometimes.

But Dale Vanwright is a great addition. He's a very strongly built young man. He and his parents took an unofficial here his junior year and decided to commit going into the summer. He's a young man that, like all the guys, saw an opportunity to come in and play right away in arguably one of the best conferences in the country.

On Dwight Thorne
The next young man is Dwight Thorne, a 6-3 point guard. He can also swing and play some combo guard, but we primarily recruited him to play the point. Of course, we'll have Dominique Coleman as a senior next year, and he'll be the only point guard in the program other than Chase Perkowski, a non-scholarship guy. Dwight Thorne is a very good basketball player. Most of the guys that we signed all have the right body type coming in to play in a very physical conference. He's ranked right now, I guess, the 20th best player in Texas. He's rated 91 out of a possible 100 points, according to Bob Gibbons.

On Xavier Silas
The next guy that committed to us was Xavier Silas. His father James Silas played in the NBA for many years with the Spurs. The Spurs recently retired his jersey. Xavier at 6-5, 205 was probably the best 2-guard we saw all summer long. He really understands the game. After watching him play this summer, it was apparent that his dad had taught him a lot about the game. He really has a great basketball IQ. He's a young man that I think at some point will have a chance to play at the next level. He will be on NBA team's radar very early in his career.

He's at Brewster Academy, which is in Wolfeboro, N.H. He's out of Austin, Texas. But a very good basketball player.

On Sean Kowal
I think the next young man that committed was Sean Kowal. He's 6-10, 240 pounds out of De Smet High School in St. Louis. He has nice size for a high school senior. He's a guy who we think can come in and contribute right away, as well as the rest of the guys that signed early with us.

He did not play most of his junior year because of an injury, and was doing some rehab this summer. So he wasn't really on a lot of school's radar this summer because of some stress fractures. But he's a very good basketball player. Coach Graham went out and saw him on a Thursday or Friday, then I saw him on a Monday. At the time Coach Graham saw him, teams like Xavier and Cincinnati had started to find out more about him.

On Jeremy Williams
Jeremy Williams, out of Memphis, Tenn., is 6-8, 210 pounds. Again, just a very strongly bu9ilt young man. It came down between us, Tennessee and UAB. At the end it looked like he was going to choose Tennessee, but Coach Anderson did a terrific job. He's known him for a while, so that relationship really helped us secure his commitment. I think he also is a young man that has a chance to play at the next level. I think all the guys that we've signed will make money playing basketball after college.

One of the things I've always said is when you start beating good programs for talent, eventually you'll start beating those same programs on the court. Again, I think this is the best recruiting class since I've been here that we've had. That speaks well for my staff.

We also have a young man, Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, that transferred from Ohio State that will be a part of that eight scholarship allotment that we have.

Q: Do you plan to give the other two for the spring?
We know that one will be held for the spring. Currently, now we are targeting big people. We will have another signing in the early period. That's taking place in the next day or two. I can't speak about that because the papers aren't signed and back.

So we will have one scholarship to give in the spring, and that will go for a big guy.

Q: Is that the only thing you're missing out of this class?
If you look across the country, any teams that are having good success, they have really good guards. Everything starts with your guayrds. Your defense starts out front with them. They're the guys that are pushing the ball up the floor and fast breaking.

So we feel like with Marcus King-Stockton – he will continue to get better and better in the program. Jermyl Jackson would start for us today if he were eligible. Even though he's an undersized post player, he plays a lot bigger than his walking-around size. And then you add Calvin Williams to that mix, and you add Kowal. We think we need one more big guy. We will look at possibly bringing in a junior college big. When we say big, we want him real big.

But I think we have good enough guards coming in. And when you think about returning players, Richard Roby will be a junior next year, Dominique Coleman will have a year under his belt, Marcus Hall will be a senior, King-Stockton will be a junior. Even though we lose eight guys, we still have a solid nucleus returning to go along with the new guys.

Q: Is Kowal done growing?
I don't know. But at 6-10, he's big enough. And, again, Jermyl Jackson is a really good basketball player. We call him 6-6, and that's stretching it. But he plays 6-8, 6-9. He can play above the rim. So 6-10, if Kowal doesn't grow anymore, he's still big enough.

Q: Did Silas go to the prep academy just to get another year of maturity?
He was a qualifier out of high school. I think Baylor and A&M were recruiting him out of high school. But because he's young, he's still only 17 years old even as a 5th year senior, his dad, knowing what he knows about the game, thought another year of maturation would help him.

Q: How many of these kids' parents asked you about your contract situation?
Probably all of them.

Q: And what did you tell them?
I told them that we plan on being here, my staff and I. And we dressed it up as best we knew how. But that was the truth, we do plan on being here. That was important to each one of the kids and their parents. That was a question I told them they could address with our athletic director. Each one of these kids and their parents who came on their visits met with our athletic director. So they asked him directly that question. I think all that will take care of itself.

Q: Do you plan on making Texas more of a focus in recruiting?
Really, with Coach Graham's background — Colorado has always tried to get in Texas. The kid Mack Tuck that was here years ago was from Minneola, Texas. But with Coach Graham's background having coached high school in Dallas for nine or 10 years, he has still a lot of contacts there.

One thing we notice about kids from Texas, if they don't go to the University of Texas, they tend to leave the state.

Q: Chauncey Billups has had real visible success the last couple years. How much do you find when you talk to high school players that they know about him?
Chauncey has become a household name with all high school basketball players. Everyone knows who Chauncey Billups is. And to be able to say that he was the third pick in the draft…I just remember before he came here, you couldn't really talk about guys (from Colorado) going to the league. Jay Humphries was the most recent name you could mention to high school kids.

What's amazing, guys in our program now never saw Jay Humphries play (in the NBA). I remember him, and he was a really good player. So current success certainly helps you in recruiting. With David Harrison being a McDonald's All-American and coming here and leaving after his third year. Anytime you have some names that are recognizable, then it helps you in recruiting.

And I also have to mention our kids did a fantastic job with the recruits coming in. They really are the ones that can do the best job selling your program and selling you as a coach.

Q: Any of these guys potential redshirts?
I don't see either one of those guys redshirting. I think they can all come in and play right away. Sometimes you have to put weight and strength on a guy and that takes a while. But I think these guys can all come in and play and contribute.

Q: Was Jeremy wavering at the end?
What happened was, he had unofficially told us we were leading. But he hadn't come out and announced that to the media. Then he went on his visit to Tennessee. He visited us first, then went to UAB, then to Tennessee. Of course, both of the places being close to home, that was a factor. And he had a nice visit at Tennessee. From Memphis to Knoxville's about 400 miles. Memphis to Birmingham is about five hours. You always fight that.

Jeremy is a kid that's very talented. He did not go anywhere this summer. We had targeted him his junior year. His mother made him stay home in Memphis this summer and work. Which, I tell you, I like that. Right now his high school is ranked No. 2 in the state and they just beat the No. 1 team.

Q: How did you and your staff's ties to Tennessee help?
I think the fact that John Anderson had had a relationship with Jeremy since he was in junior high school and had a relationship with his mother, that certainly helped. And when he came out, of course, Coach Anderson and his wife being from Memphis, Calvin Williams being from Memphis, my wife being from Memphis and that same high school, Will Smith being from Memphis, me being from Nashville, David Harrison being from Nashville…he felt like maybe we had turned this into Memphis west. There was certainly a comfort level for him. And he said he wanted to get away and experience something different.

Q: You've attracted interest from kids of this level in the past, but not signed them. Is this a next step for the program? I remember when you had Quentin Richardson visit.
Yeah, Quentin Richardson was on campus. He still tells people had he not stayed home and gone to DePaul, he would've come here. So, yeah, we always have targeted this caliber of player, but this is the first time that we've been able to have this much success in landing them.

I just liken it to starting a business that's 30 years behind. …It's taken us this long to get to the point where now we can get these kids.

Q: Kowal is the one guy that doesn't have eye-popping statistics. Is he kind of sleeper?
Again, you've got to keep in mind he didn't play most of his junior year because he was injured. He played sparingly this summer. So he was off everybody's radar. And I've never been afraid to take a kid that no one liked but me. All of these kids with the exception of Kowal are ranked three stars. To give you an example, we have guys who are in our program now who are seniors, when they signed, their ranking was an 0.6. Not even one. And now these guys are all threes. I've never really cared much about rankings, but it's got to mean something.

Q: What does Kowal do well?
He is a true center. He is a powerful guy. He's not a thin guy. He's a 6-10, 240-pound guy that wants to play his position. So many times now you get 6-10 guys and they want to be guards. He's a post player and doesn't mind being one. Sometimes you have to tell those guys we'll play you at the small forward in a few years, because someone has told them that's going to increase their chance of going to the NBA. He hasn't bought into all that. He's a post player.

Q: You said Xavier's knowledge of the game has rubbed off. Any particulars?
Just how he plays. He lets the game come to him. One of the things our guys always say about Chauncey Billups when they play against him in the summer is how easy he makes the game look. I think that's what separates a pro guy. They make it look effortless, they don't rush. (Silas) does a great job moving without the ball. You can just tell he's been around a guy that understood the game. He's got a very high basketball IQ.

Q: How many state of Colorado kids did you recruit this year?
We evaluated all of the Colorado players. The one kid that went to Gonzaga is a really good point guard. But Colorado has a number of players in the junior class – that's one of the things that we've identified.

When there's a kid we feel who can come in and help us, we'll certainly recruit him. That's our No. 1 priority, because first of all you don't want schools coming in and getting the good players out of your state. So we will always look in-state first.

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