Bzdelik promises change to lure Relphorde

Marcus Relphorde became the newest member of the Colorado basketball team and the final member of the 2009 recruiting class when he signed scholarship paperwork Wednesday afternoon. But concerns over how he would fit into coach Jeff Bzdelik's system almost prevented him from coming to Boulder. Get inside to find out why he became a Buff.

Marcus Relphorde can score from all points on the court. He's a decent passer. He can shoot the 3-pointer and he's good on the move with and without the ball in his hands. The 6-foot-7 junior college transfer who grew up on the south side of Chicago is just the type of player Jeff Bzdelik says he wants. Well-rounded.

But there was a time during the past few months in recruiting when Relphorde said he didn't think he would fit in well in Boulder. Relphorde said he watched the Buffs play on television and the slow, deliberate offense Bzdelik runs made him think twice about becoming a Buff.

Relphorde said he was sold on the Buffs when Bzdelik told him changes are coming for how the Buffs play basketball as soon as Bzdelik feels he has the right people in place to make those changes work. He told Relphorde he is a big piece of that puzzle.

"Initially it was kind of like a drawback to me, but after talking to coach he had plans of changing his system and adding a lot more of the NBA plays the stuff that he ran when he was with the Nuggets to try to switch it to a more up-tempo pace," Relphorde said. "That made it more attractive to me."

Relphorde became the fifth and final member of the 2009 class by signing with Bzdelik, joining point guard Shannon Sharpe, shooting guard Alec Burks, forward Keegan Hornbuckle and center Shane Harris-Tunks. Relphorde will have two years of eligibility at CU.

It is a solid recruiting class that adds size and athleticism to a roster lacking in both regards.

Relphorde, the son of a father who sells real estate and a mother who is a kindergarten teacher, grew up playing basketball year round and rooting for Chicago's sports teams. He chose the White Sox over the Cubs in the summertime, but we will have to forgive him for that.

Relphorde initially attended Saint Louis University out of High School. He didn't believe he fit well into coach Rick Majerus' system and he transferred. He played last season at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Relphorde said coach Bzdelik and assistant coach Steve McClain began recruiting him early last fall and attended his first game of the season. He said both made regular stops throughout the year and he visited Boulder on April 10.

Relphorde said he hopes to earn a degree in business at CU and he wants to be a part of the team that reunites the program with postseason basketball.

"I just chose it because I had a real good relationship with coach Bzdelik and coach McClain," Relphorde said. "They've been recruiting me steadily for a long time. I like the recruits they already signed, and I just feel like with the right pieces that they've got they are headed in the right direction."

Relphorde averaged 10.5 points a game last season with solid shooting percentages of better than 50 percent overall and about 35 percent from behind the 3-point line. He also made 72 percent of his free-throw attempts.

"The strength of my game is my versatility," Relphorde said. "I can play one, two, three, four positions on the court and cause a lot of matchup problems."

Relphorde plans to be in Boulder for the beginning of summer classes by June 1. He is friends with Javon Coney, another product of Chicago who has played the past two years for the Buffs. He also has grown close to Cory Higgins and Dwight Thorne, the two players who hosted him on his official visit.

"The signing of Marcus Relphorde completes an excellent recruiting class for the Buffs," Bzdelik said in a statement. "His addition should have an immediate positive impact on our team because of the much needed maturity and experience that he brings. Marcus combines size and strength with an overall skill package that makes him a difficult match up defensively."

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