Colorado might have ended its season without a trip to the NCAA tournament and fallen short of the NIT championship game after losing to Alabama on Tuesday, but the Buffaloes did achieve something during their consolation postseason run.
In coach Tad Boyle's first season, Colorado's 24 wins broke a school record and marked only the fifth time in history the Buffaloes have won at least 20 games. That counts as progress as the program leaves the Big 12 for the Pac-12.
Now the attention turns to Alec Burks, the bouncy 6-foot-6 sophomore guard who has an NBA draft decision to make. He averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds this season, but at times struggled on defense.
Burks missed at the buzzer in what could have been his final college game as Colorado lost 62-61 and then apparently slipped out of the locker room without talking to reporters.
According to the Denver Post, Burks has received some advice from former Colorado great Chauncey Billups, who left school for the NBA after his sophomore season.
"I've spoken to Alec a couple of times," Billups said. "We'll talk some more here soon. I really want him to just focus on his season right now. Don't worry about the NBA or leaving; the time will come."
Billups doesn't see Burks' weight, or lack of it, as an issue.
"There are guys built like Alec in the NBA," he said. "He's a frail guy, but he's a special talent for his size. He's a really good playmaker."
With Burks, Colorado would compete for the upper half of the Pac-12. Without him, the rebuilding project begins again, but on a high note.
The move to the Pac-12 allows Colorado to recruit California better, and Boyle has already signed three recruits out of the Los Angeles area, including point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. ESPU ranks Dinwiddie as the No. 29 point guard in the recruiting class.
Colorado also got a taste of how far it could go as a program this season when it was fully expecting to make the field of 68, but stunningly denied. Boyle told his players to make a run in the NIT in order to show they belonged, and they did with wins against Kent State and Cal, a future Pac-12 opponent.
The Buffaloes fell short of the title in New York, but they set a standard for future teams to build on.