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David Ramsey: CU's Tad Boyle believes Sand Creek's D'shawn Schwartz can become a star in Boulder

February 16, 2017 Updated: February 17, 2017 at 10:18 am
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photo - Sand Creek D'shawn Schwartz goes in for a layup during the Vista Ridge and Sand Creek boys basketball game at Vista Ridge High School on Wednesday, January 27, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette.
Sand Creek D'shawn Schwartz goes in for a layup during the Vista Ridge and Sand Creek boys basketball game at Vista Ridge High School on Wednesday, January 27, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette. 

Tad Boyle wants Colorado's best high school players to play for him in Boulder. He's greedy. He wants all of them.

When D'shawn Schwartz signed in the fall to play for the Buffs, it ended Boyle's pursuit of the state's most promising senior. It also ended a courtship.

For years, Schwartz listened to Boyle say nice things about him. It was all part of the usual expert sales pitch.

The wooing is over for Schwartz. The brutal challenge a leap from playing in gyms in Colorado Springs to competing in arenas in the Pac-12 awaits the shooting guard/small forward.

Boyle is confident Schwartz will make a graceful leap. The leap begins over the summer, when the Buffs and Schwartz travel to Italy for a series of games.

"We need him to come in and play next season," Boyle said in a phone interview. "How good is he going to be? Nobody knows that, but he's got all the makings of a very good player."

Schwartz averages 27 points and 9 rebounds for Sand Creek, which takes the short trip Friday night to tangle with arch-rival Vista Ridge. The game pits Schwartz vs. Wyoming signee Hunter Maldonado and serves as a preview of future Buff-Cowboy battles.

I agree with Boyle about Schwartz.

He will become a star at CU, and perhaps beyond, because he's a team player who doesn't yearn to dominate as a ball-hogging superstar. He's most comfortable living his basketball life within the rhythm of a team concept.

He has all the tools to excel in college basketball.

"I love his body," Boyle said. "I've watched him develop through the years from a skinny, scrawny guy to what he is now. His body looks D-1 ready to me.

"I love his skill set. He can pass the ball, shoot the ball, dribble the ball, and he's got size. He's 6-foot-6."

But Boyle wants and expects more from Schwartz. The coach sat courtside Jan. 25 when Vista Ridge invaded Sand Creek's gym and trashed the Scorpions. At one point, Vista Ridge led 45-17 while Schwartz virtually vanished. In the first half, while the game slipped away, Schwartz grabbed one offensive rebound. Remember, Schwartz is 6-foot-6.

Boyle noticed.

"Every time I talk with him, I ask him about his rebounding," Boyle said. "I say, 'Make sure you're developing your rebounding.' I think he can be a very good rebounder. It's part of his game that I think he can develop. It's something that doesn't always come naturally to kids. He can be a great rebounder, but that's an area where he has to get better."

Boyle also noticed Vista Ridge's extreme, and effective, defensive strategy. At times, four defenders chased - and we're talking literally here - Schwartz around the court. That level of defensive attention can stifle anyone.

"Every night in high school, he faces a defense with this priority: To take him out of it," Boyle said. "He's facing it every night. In college, he'll be surrounded by better players, and defenses aren't going to be designed to stop D'shawn Schwartz."

But that's the future. On Friday, Schwartz will face a defense specifically designed to stop him. Vista Ridge coach Joe Hites employed a throw-everybody-at-D'shawn strategy in the first clash, and it worked.

My guess: Hites will repeat the strategy.

As Sand Creek chases a state title, Schwartz needs to embrace a more aggressive, less-team-oriented approach. When his teammates fail to get him the ball when he's surrounded by handsy defenders, he must battle in the violent realm of the lane and create his own opportunities by seizing rebounds.

When Boyle watches Schwartz, his first thoughts are about the future success of his Buffs, not the present success of Sand Creek's Scorpions.

But Boyle was once a star at Greeley Central. He knows the good and bad of being the player everyone watches, and criticizes, at a high school gym.

Boyle, in closing, offered a fascinating observation about Schwartz.

"He may or may not be an alpha-dog guy," Boyle said.

We'll find out D'shawn's alpha-dog status during Sand Creek's march in the state tournament.

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