UCLA and Wake Forest came calling for Josh Scott. Arizona and Miami came calling for Wesley Gordon.
But Scott and Gordon turned down those powerhouse Division-I programs. The two Colorado Springs basketball standouts are going to join forces in hopes of putting the University of Colorado on the national map as a college basketball destination.
“I wanted to bring CU, Colorado basketball back up,” said Scott, who had UCLA recruiting him this summer despite his verbal commitment to CU. “Kids like (Palmer graduate) Reggie Jackson went out of state, and I wanted to change that process. (To) think I helped start it ... Three of the top players in the state are coming to CU.”
Scott, a senior at Lewis-Palmer, and Gordon, a senior at Sierra, signed their national letters of intent on Wednesday. Joining them at CU will be Sterling’s Xavier Talton.
Scott and Gordon have one more season as foes before they defend the same basket as Buffs. But they got a taste of what it’ll be like to be on the same court last month at the Rocky Mountain Fall Showcase. Gordon scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, while Scott scored 46 and grabbed 20 boards. The two of them will be relied on to produce like that at Colorado.
“They both bring different things to the table, and though both are big guys we’ll play them together,” said CU coach Tad Boyle, who in his first season took the Buffaloes to the semifinals of the NIT in the spring. “They’re the front court of our future for our program.”
That future is thought highly of outside the state. ESPN ranked Colorado 21st for its 2012 recruiting class, beating out big-time programs Memphis, Oklahoma State and Florida. Rivals.com had Scott ranked 20th in the nation among power forwards, 65th overall and the top prospect in the state. Gordon was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
For Boyle, it was incredibly important to keep local kids local.
“That’s something that has been a challenge for Colorado basketball throughout the years,” Boyle said. “That’s why it’s so big we didn’t get just one of them, we got both of them. As we move forward, build this program, that’s something we want to continue to do.”
Gordon’s coach at Sierra, Terry Dunn, knows about the Buffaloes’ challenge. Dunn was an assistant with the men’s basketball team under Ricardo Patton.
“I think it’s awesome,” Dunn said. “Schools in Colorado should be able to keep the best players in Colorado. For a long period of time that’s been a struggle ... I know that was one of the struggles that as a Division-I coach and a Division-I assistant that was the one thing that you wanted to do, keep your best players in state.”
Staying and playing in state can get the ball rolling for the Buffs.
“It shows that local kids can go to big D-I schools and be successful,” Gordon said.
Their tag-team performance at last month’s showcase was one Gordon is looking forward to continuing throughout his collegiate career.
The 6-foot-8 senior smiled. “I can get used to that,” he said.