2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Buffs: NBA or nah? Spencer Dinwiddie will….

Published: April 15, 2014, 6:20 pm, by Paul Klee

… have breakfast tomorrow. And continue rehabbing from a knee injury that ended his season and, ultimately, the Colorado basketball team’s chance at advancing in the NCAA tournament.

Other than that, the Buffs aren’t quite sure. Dinwiddie’s future remains the biggest question of their offseason. Will the standout guard ditch his final year at CU and leap to the NBA?

“I don’t know yet,” CU coach Tad Boyle told me today. “I really don’t.”

It was a testament to Boyle and the stability of the program that Colorado earned an NCAA tournament berth after losing Dinwiddie on Jan. 12. Losing your best player, midseason, is one ingredient for a late-season spiral. The spiral never transpired and the Buffs danced for the third-straight year.

But losing Dinwiddie to the NBA would be a monumental tease. Instead of fielding what could be the most balanced roster in program history, the Buffs wouldn’t be as good as they should be. 

This marks the second straight offseason — and third in four years — Boyle faces the possibility of losing a gifted contributor to the NBA draft. Alec Burks entered the 2011 draft after his sophomore year. Last year, Andre Roberson declared after his junior season. Both became first-round picks with guaranteed contracts. When that happens, it’s a good thing for a program in the long-term.

But the Dinwiddie Dilemma is different. Burks and Roberson were healthy as they entered the predraft process. Dinwiddie missed the final 18 games of his junior season after tearing an ACL. So he hasn’t been able to receive the kind of valuable feedback, from the NBA side, as he would if he were healthy.

“It’s hard. He’s going to have to rely on third-party information,” as Boyle said, and the lack of reliable information makes a difficult decision even more difficult. 

The deadline to declare is April 27. Here’s the scary part for Boyle, or any coaching staff with an injured player contemplating an early exit: “You don’t know who’s giving them the information.”

“Unfortunately, with Spencer’s injury, the process becomes really clouded. There’s been a lot of wishy-washy type of information,” Boyle said.

Would CU prefer if Dinwiddie returns? Well, yeah. But the wrong decision, particularly for a prospect coming off a knee injury, can doom a player’s career before it really gets rolling.

“I want what’s best for him. What’s best for him is to get a guaranteed contract from an NBA team. I always want what’s best for Spencer or Andre or Alec or any of our guys,” Boyle said. “Are we a better team with him coming back? Absolutely.

“But that’s not what this is about. That might not be what the fans want to hear, or what Buff Nation wants to hear. But as the coach, a young man we recruited and sold a vision to and sold a dream to, he’s on the cusp of realizing his dream. We don’t want to hold him back. We just want him to make the best possible decision.”

What will Dinwiddie do? The Buffs don’t know yet. His knee injury makes this a dicey decision. 

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette