Future Buffs Impressive at Joint Effort

Four players from Ricardo Patton's heralded 2006 recruiting class took part in the annual Joint Effort Hoops Festival Friday night. Inside, some thoughts about the foursome.

Colorado basketball recruits Xavier Silas, Dwight Thorne, Dale VanWright and Jeremy Williams teamed with six other high school seniors and beat a squad from the state of Colorado 64-55 in the second of two games at the Joint Effort tournament in Denver Friday. (Another group of out-of-state players barely beat a Colorado contingent earlier in the evening).

The foursome played together in the starting lineup, joined by Aron Hensen (a Wyoming signee), and quickly pulled away from the in-state team, which featured 7-foot, Providence-bound center Ray Hall of Mullen. (Thunder Ridge's Matt Bouldin did not play).

Coach Cleve Christie (Solebury Prep/New Hope, Pa.) used a platoon substituting system, so the four future Buffaloes played together most of the game. What was striking was how the foursome seemed to already have on-court chemistry. The players had their first practice Friday morning.

"As soon as we met we all had chemistry," said Silas, a 6-5 wing player. "It's just something that happened. We've been talking and keeping up with each other throughout the year. We all have the same goals, the same focus."

Point guard Dwight Thorne noticed the chemistry, too.

"We were throwing lobs and dunking on folks in practice so when we came out here it was a little easier than it would've been," Thorne said. "It's pretty strange how we clicked so quickly."

The foursome, along with Hensen, dominated their opponents whenever they were on the floor. The Colorado team made a run at the end of the game to close the gap to seven points, but most of the game was played with a much bigger lead.

"I had a great time playing with my future teammates," said 6-7 Jeremy Williams. "They shoot the ball pretty well and everyone seemed to be unselfish."

They will play again Saturday night at Metro State College in Denver. Call (303) 745-9649 or (303) 241-9860 to check what time.

Overall Impressions
Believe the hype. Even without Kal Bay (a no show) and Sean Kowal (wasn't there either), the four players who participated in Friday night's game would make up Patton's best recruiting class to date. It's wildly obvious Patton and his staff were fishing in a different talent pool this time around. Each one of these players — at least where their game is right now — would have been in the mix for starting duty (yes, not just playing time, starting duty) this past season on a Colorado team that won 20 games.

Though they each bring different kinds of games to the floor, Silas, Thorne, VanWright and Williams have a few significant things in common.

First, none of them look like high school seniors. Each is physically mature. Second, all four are very good athletes, but more importantly, all four will come to CU with very solid basketball fundamentals. That's not something that's always been the case at Colorado. Offensively, each of these four players has good footwork and good shooting mechanics. No hitches, no odd ball rotations, nothing that makes you cringe when they pull up for a jumper.

Defensively, they'll need work from Day 1, but that's to be expected.

Here are some thoughts on each individual player.

Xavier Silas
Silas is physically mature and so is his game. He's got the high basketball IQ you like to see in someone his age. He understands there's more to the game than running and jumping. Will do the little things that don't show up in box scores and is a player that will make those around him better. Can shoot the three and take it strong to the hole, but also has a developed mid-range game — kind of a throw-back type player. Possesses a natural leader personality. Would have been difficult to keep out of the starting lineup on CU's team this past season.

Dwight Thorne
The least heralded of the four at Friday's game, the player he is today would've made a push for the starting point guard position at CU this past season. He's a pass-first floor leader who can shoot from outside, as well. Fundamentally sound. Another natural leader, carries himself very well, very confident as the point man. Physically, he resembles a slightly taller Chris Paul.

Dale VanWright
Again, another kid whose physical maturity just jumps out at you. He's a legit 6-5 guy who can stroke it from outside, and has muscle enough to keep defenders off him around the basket. Has some flash to his game when he goes above the rim. (He missed a roundhouse dunk on a breakaway, but it was impressive nonetheless). Was a little lax on defense at times Friday, but will learn quickly that tough defense is what will earn minutes at Colorado. Offensively, his game is Big 12 ready today.

Jeremy Williams
Williams guarded 7-foot center Ray Hall, a legit D-I player who prepped at Mullen and who's headed to Providence. Hall looks like he's pushing 300 pounds. Williams was physical with him, but Williams isn't a low-post type player. ("He's pretty big. It wasn't too hard, but he kind of reminded me I need to get in the weight room," Williams said.) Williams is a true inside-outside guy. He plays strong above the rim (had a number of thunderous put-back dunks) and is very athletic. He can get out and run at 6-7, 215 pounds. But the big surprise to me was how refined his outside game is. He can pull up and shoot the three.

Jeremy Williams. (BSN)

Xavier Silas. (BSN)

Dale VanWright. (BSN)

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