Colorado Basketball: 5 players who excelled during Costa Rica exhibition tour

Colorado Basketball took advantage of the NCAA rule of allowing teams to go on a summer trip when they made the trek to Costa Rica, where the Buffs played four games.

The Colorado Buffaloes (Aug. 13-16) strolled into San Jose, Costa Rica, without a full complement of players. Nevertheless, the Buffs took care of business, going 4-0 with and outscoring their opponents 392-165. CU surpassed the point in two of those games, which includes erupting for 141 points in its last game against Grecia, a Costa Rican pro team — the Buffs played three pro teams along with a select squad.

Colorado averaged 98 points a game while connecting on 54.2% (152-280) shot attempts overall, and 40 of 103 (38.8%) from beyond the arc, as well as 48 of 62 (77.4%), tries from the free-throw line. The Buffaloes grabbed 172 rebounds (46 offensive) compared to 104 (13) for their opponents. They also had a nearly 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio (77-to-40) while forcing over 20 turnovers a game.

The Buffs also came up with 58 steals and registered 123 fastbreak points. Defensively, CU  gave up 41.2 points a contest and held opponents to 28.4% shooting from the field (54-190) as well as 21.8% (14-64) from the 3-point line. Additionally, the Buffaloes drew 61 fouls and were whistled for just 33.

CU was without two of its five freshmen from a class that was ranked 11th in the nation by 247 Sports, 4-star  forward Quincy Allen, and 3-star guard Javon Ruffin. In addition, coach Tad Boyle opted to rest seniors Evan Battey and Eli Parquet in two of the four contests.  Here is a look at the five players who cooked during the four-game exhibition slate.

Honorable mention

Keeshawn Barthelemy, who led the Buffs with  23 points in game 4, finished second on the team with 13.7 points, while 7-0 freshman center Lawson Lovering finished with 8.5  points, 5.8 caroms (2.0 offensive), and 2.2 assists.

KJ Simpson

The 6-2 incoming freshman combo guard, a consensus 4-star prospect, showed off his elite athleticism along with an electric ability to score. He was also very efficient and demonstrated the intensity of the defensive end.

Simpson scored in double-figures in all four games, with his best game being game 4, where he dropped 21 points, grabbed six boards, doled out five assists, and came up with six steals. The West Hills (Calif.) native finished the tour with  averages15.2 points, on 62.1% shooting and 53.8% from the 3-point line, to go along with 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.2 steals, and 1.5 turnovers.

Jabari Walker

The 6-8 forward wanted to continue playing like the way he played at the end of last season on both ends of the court, mission accomplished. Walker, whose missed dunk in game 3 of the tour caused the contest to end prematurely (shattered backboard), was rarely off target during the tour as he averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 boards while connecting on 16 of 26 shots (61.5%), including 5 of 10 (50%) from beyond the arc. The Inglewood (Calif.) native scored in double-figures in three of the four contests.

Nique Clifford

The 6-5 guard displayed his versatility and the ability to overcome adversity during the tour. Clifford, who missed 13 of 17 shots during the first two games, closed the exhibition session out by knocking down 11 of his final 16 attempts, including 5 of 6 from long distance. He was also super on the glass, posting the only double-digit rebound effort. Clifford finished with 8.9 points, 7.0 caroms, 1.5 assists, as well las 1.7 steals.

Julian Hammond

The 6-3 point guard, a 3-star local product, played well throughout the four games but had real strong outing over the final three contests. Hammond, who converted 18 of 29 shots over the last three games, which included a 19-point effort in game 4, finished with averages of 13.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 steals, along with 0.5 turnovers.

Tristan Da Silva

The 6-8 German forward did a fantastic job at drawing fouls and rebounded the ball decently well. Da Silva tallied 37 points on 12 of 19 shooting, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point line, as well as grabbed 16 boards and doled out 8 assists.