Tad Boyle gives his reaction after CU locks down two 2020 NLIs
Colorado today announced that it had received National Letters of Intent from the two commits for head coach Tad Boyle's Class of 2020, Luke O'Brien and Dominique Clifford, getting the wheels turning for this year's Early Signing Period.
O'Brien, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard form Littleton, committed back in November of 2018, while Clifford, a 6-foot-4 gaurd from Colorado Springs, joined the fray via a commitment in late September.
As Colorado continues to adjust to Mountain Standard Time and in general after returning from China, Boyle and the team got good news this morning in the form of NLIs via O'Brien and Clifford.
By the time of the 2020 season, Colorado will have lost seniors Shane Gatling and Lucas Siewert, with the possibility, and perhaps likelihood of Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV also leaving after their junior years to pursue NBA careers.
Thus, getting the future of the program to put pen to paper no doubt comes as a major positive for Boyle, who commented on the two players after CU's Wednesday morning practice in Boulder.
"We’ve had Luke committed now for well over a year," Boyle said. "He’s going to be a good player — a bouncy, athletic guy that can shoot it and stretch the defense. I look like him kind of like D’Shawn (Schwartz)."
"He’s not where D’Shawn is physically yet, but (he has a) similar skill set. He’s got a good motor, great size, can play a lot of positions and guard a lot of different positions. We’re really excited to add him into the mix."
"And then Dominique Clifford, he’s a guy who keeps getting better and better every time you see him," Boyle added. "He’s going to be a terrific player./ He kind of just burst onto the scene over the last 12 months, but he’s going to be special player. He’s got a lot of ways he can affect a game.”
Clifford was described by Rivals National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi as a "major steal" for the Buffs.
Boyle admitted that it took some time before Clifford formally became a blip on the Buffs' radar.
“He was at our elite camp (his) junior year and he was not on our radar," Boyle said. "In fact, he was in the gym where not the top prospects were. And then he had a great junior year, he grew three or four inches, and you started hearing about him."
"We went down (to Colorado Springs) and saw him a couple times, saw him in the summer (before his senior year), he came back to our elite camp, and (I said), 'alright, this guy’s a baller, it’s time to step up.' We were a little bit late to the party in terms of recruiting."
The way Clifford steadily and late into his high school career became a coveted recruit has resulted in comparisons to former Buffalo and current San Antonio Spur Derrick White, who received almost no collegiate consideration until he'd played a few years of college ball at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
In his lone year at CU, for the 2016-17 season, he averaged 18.1 points per game for the Buffs and in June of 2017, was the Spurs' first-round draft pick.
“I don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse — I hate comparing players, but from the standpoint of a late developer, yes," Boyle said of Clifford comparing to White. "From (them both playing) in Colorado Springs, yes. (They’re) both late developers that were kind of under the radar but he’s got a chance to be special. He can shoot it, dribble it, he’s athletic and he keeps growing.”
While Clifford certainly will have a lot to prove if he's to live up to comparisons to White, Boyle no doubt recruited him hard because of a belief in his ability to do just that in his time at Colorado.
"He’s a homegrown guy and you have to protect the borders of the state. He’s a guy we couldn’t let go.”