D’Shawn Schwartz looks to solidify his role as a third option for Buffs

Junior guard D’Shawn Schwartz took a big step from freshman to sophomore year. He started 35 games on the wing for the Buffs last season, averaging 9.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, compared to just 3.4 points per game his freshman year. Schwartz’s production increased in the Pac-12 and postseason play in 2018, scoring in double digits during the three NIT matchups.

According to Colorado head coach Tad Boyle, Schwartz had an effective offseason headed into 2019, one that should put him position to be the third option offensively, alongside junior forward Tyler Bey and junior point guard, McKinley Wright IV.

“He (D’Shawn Schwartz) has had as good of an offseason as anybody in our program,” Boyle said. “He’s playing with a high degree of confidence right now and I think he’s, he’s going to be a guy, I think McKinley and Tyler being first team all-league guys, we know what they’re capable of and we know what we expect of them. I think D’Shawn has got the ability to really step his game up and be that third option.”

Schwartz’s shooting has stood out over the summer and so far in preseason. He should provide a major boost for a Colorado team that finished tenth in the Pac-12 last season, shooting just 32 percent from downtown. Schwartz along with senior guard Shane Gatling will be the go to three-point shooters for the Buffs in 2019-20.

“When we looked at all the shots we took in the preseason in the workouts, he was by far our best in terms of overall shooting,” Boyle said. Defensively and offensively he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

In addition to improving his accuracy from deep, Schwartz made a purposeful effort in transforming his body and getting in shape for the upcoming season. Tad Boyle talked about Schwartz’ physical evolution this offseason.

“He’s physically a lot stronger and bigger,” Boyle said. Just the natural maturation (and) the work he’s put in with coach Englehart in the weight room (has paid off).”

Schwartz echoed Boyle’s thoughts and was quick to mention strength and conditioning coach Steve Englehart, who played a key role in Schwartz’ offseason transformation.

“I would say the weight room (on areas of offseason improvement),” Schwartz said. “Shout out to Steve because he really put a lot of emphasis on working on my lower body (and) upper body, trying to get my vertical better. I think I got really in shape in the offseason, that was something I was really focusing on, just trying to be in the best shape of my college career.”

Headed into this season Schwartz said he wants to be a guy that his teammates can look to as a leader. Schwartz’ jump in productivity last season came in part because former guard, Namon Wright missed the second half of the 2018-19 season with a foot injury. This year, because of his drastic improvement in his sophomore campaign, Schwartz is expected to be an integral part for the Buffs’ both offensively and defensively.

“(I’m) just trying to change my mindset from being a guy in the backseat to just trying to be one of those guys that people can look to for help or if they want watch somebody who leads by example,” Schwartz said. “I kind of want to be that guy this year.”

When asked about the evolution of his game since arriving on campus in 2017, Schwartz said it’s a product of going up against stiff competition every day in practice. Playing in the Pac-12 year after year has helped to craft his game into what it is today.

“I think (it) comes from just confidence and just playing at this level every day,” Schwartz said. “Going up against guys like Tyler Bey and everybody on this team, playing against hard defense made me want to become a better defender and (improve) all those facets of my game.”

Schwartz’s length defensively allows him to guard pretty much all five positions, something that frequently is overlooked when evaluating repertoire both offensively and defensively. His physical improvements in the offseason put him in position to be a solid option defensively given his length a six foot seven inches. With all the focus on Bey and Wright, expect Schwartz to take on an even more expanded role for Boyle’s Buffaloes in 2019-20 and be a consistent contributor on both sides of the ball.

Driven by her older brother, Haileigh Adams eyes professional soccer

Growing up the younger sister of a Canadian Football League quarterback, Haileigh Adams admitted she always felt in her brother’s shadow. Her brother, Vernon, passed for over 5,000 yards and threw nearly 50 touchdowns in his final two seasons in high school. At that time Haileigh Adams said that almost no one knew her by her first name, just as Vernon’s sibling.

“All the time people would come up to me, (and say) ‘oh you’re Vernon Adams’ little sister,’” Adams said. To that she would always respond, “no, I’m Haileigh Adams.”

But Adams said she is proud of her brother, who is now in his fourth year in the CFL and looking to make a name for himself at the professional level. It’s a drive that has sparked motivation for Adams to pursue a similar path with her passion: soccer. Now a sophomore defender for the University of Colorado women’s soccer team, Adams is eyeing the big leagues post-college.

“(Vernon) motivates me so much,” Adams said. “Me and him are very competitive, so every time we’re both back home we’re both trying to beat each other in races, in anything. We’ll go out and we’ll play football sometimes, we’ll play soccer sometimes, we just try to beat each other.”

It’s a sibling rivalry that is alive and well today.

“(Haileigh) thinks she’s a better athlete than me,” Vernon laughed. “Low key she is.”

Haileigh Adams’ soccer journey began in high school, where she steadily improved, scoring two goals and being named the most inspirational player during her freshman year. A year later, she scored five goals and earned the Defensive Player of the Year award. Toward the end of her sophomore season, she tore her ACL and consequently had to sit out games while she went through rehab during her junior year. The injury occurred at a critical time and led to only a couple of schools keeping tabs on her as a potential recruiting target.

Adams said there was a time when she thought she’d never get back to where she was after tearing her ACL.

“It was a big step back,” Adams said. “It took me forever to get back. I wasn’t very confident. And then my coach, he just threw me up top. He (said) you have the speed. Although I didn’t have it at the time. I don’t know why he threw me up  there, but he did and it actually turned out pretty well for our team.”

Adams switched to forward her senior year and scored 14 goals with 10 assists, earning first team All-Conference and conference MVP.

Portland State was a school eyeing Adams, despite her ACL tear. Vernon, while at Eastern Washington, reached out to then Portland State recruiting coordinator Justin Wagar, to convince him to bring Haileigh to the university. However, with Wagar 14 years into his career, he was looking for a change. After Portland State’s head coach suddenly retired, Wagar landed a spot at Grambling State, bringing Adams with him.

Adams earned second team all-conference honors her freshman year at Grambling State and first team her sophomore year. She was the first player in the Southwestern Athletic Conference to earn an invite to the U19 United States Women’s National Team Training Camp in 2018. Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Adams will also finish her collegiate career at a Pac-12 school with professional aspirations.

“I want to play better soccer,” Adams said. “I want to get better and I want to play after college. I felt like CU was the perfect place to help me get there and prove my skills because when I came here I definitely learned a lot that I need to know.”

Colorado head coach Danny Sanchez was thrilled to add a player of Adams caliber prior to the 2019 season. Sanchez said Adams will likely be a large part of CU’s back end in the future.

“I think she’ll play a big role going forward for us,” Sanchez said. “(She’s) super positive, technical and very coachable. We feel she’s a player that’s definitely going to help us.”

Buffs sweep Campbell, finish Colorado Classic undefeated

The Colorado women’s volleyball team faced Campbell in the final match of the Colorado Classic. CU dominated UMBC on Saturday in their earlier match, sweeping the Retrievers 3-0. The Buffs defeated Campbell on Saturday night in four sets to finish the tournament undefeated.

Senior outside hitter Justine Spann was key for the Buffaloes throughout the tournament recording 21 and 18 kills against Oakland and UMBC respectively. Multiple players starred for the Buffs in the first two games of the tournament in addition to Spann. As a team, Colorado broke four school records in the 3-1 win over Oakland on Friday night, including freshman middle blocker Sterling Parker, who became just the third player in CU history to record seven kills on seven swings.

The Buffs’ final match against Campbell started fast. It was a tightly contested match throughout the early part of the first set. Two straight kills from Spann gave Colorado a 9-7 lead. A couple service errors and errant hits from the Fighting Camels allowed CU to jump out to a double-digit lead in the first set. Colorado took the first set easily 25-10.

Two straight kills from Parker gave the Buffs a 7-3 lead in the second set. The duo of Parker and Spann led the way for the Buffs in the second set. A kill from span gave CU a 23-13 lead late in the second set. Colorado took the second set 25-14 and took a commanding 2-0 lead.

Campbell responded in the third set, keeping the match tightly contested through the first ten points. Two straight kills from Spann in the first set gave the Buffaloes a 9-6 lead. Parker, Spann and freshman outside hitter Jill Schneggenberger kept the Buffs on top through a majority of the third set. The Fighting Camels came back and took a 19-18 lead late in the third set. Colorado responded courtesy of two straight kills from Spann. CU led 20-19. A kill from Parker gave the Buffs the third set and they completed the sweep.

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Meegan Hart was named the MVP of the tournament. The sophomore recorded hitting percentage above .600 throughout the three games. Hart, a transfer from Iowa State, talked about what it meant to her to deliver a wonderful performance not only against Campbell, but UMBC and Oakland as well, only ten games into her Colorado career.

“I means a lot,” Hart said. “It’s really special to me. My teammates have been amazing, obviously couldn’t have done it without them. They’re passing was great.”

Sophomore setter Jenna Ewert talked about how the Buffs have struggled offensively so far this season. Saturday’s two matches was a significant improvement compared to the first several games.

“We haven’t passed that well all season.” Ewert said. “I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game where we’ve passed that well, so that was a new feeling for me. It was definitely a lot of fun to have that much freedom. “(There) was a different type of connection with the hitters. You all have the confidence and… you kind of get into a groove. That’s a special thing that you don’t always get to experience.”

Head coach Jesse Mahoney talked about how the Buffs maintained a high level of intensity despite playing earlier in the day on Saturday and Saturday night.

“I thought it was a good match, especially after playing three (matches) on the weekends,” Mahoney said. “I thought our team did a really nice job to come back mentally and physically and start that match out on a really high level. We sustained that throughout the match.”

Mahoney talked about how the Buffs can use their success in the Colorado Classic as a building block headed into conference play. The Buffs face Utah to begin conference play, who began the year with wins over seventh ranked Kentucky and No. 23 Cal Poly.

“They (Utah) have one of the best players in our conference in my opinion in Danny Barton,” Mahoney said. “They redshirted one of the best middle’s in our conference last year due to injury. She’s back. I think that makes them better. They have a top ten win under their belt this season, so they’re really good.”

The Buffs will Travel to Salt Lake City next week for a Wednesday night matchup against the Utes. The game starts at 7 p.m. MST.

Colorado winning streak extends to four with 77-73 victory over Arizona State

The Colorado Buffaloes faced the Arizona State Sun Devils in a Pac-12 clash on Wednesday night at CU Events Center. Colorado looked to extend its winning streak to four following impressive victories over Oregon, UCLA and USC, the latter two of which came away from home.

Sophomore guard McKinley Wright IV set up sophomore forward Tyler Bey with two early dunks and the Buffs took an early 6-4 lead. The Sun Devils started the game cold from the field scoring just two of their first seven. Colorado was unable to solve Arizona State’s zone look defensively, shooting just 33 percent in the early going.

Freshman forward Taeshon Cherry, who missed the last two games with a concussion, led the way early for the Sun Devils, scoring eight points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field early in the game.

Impressive trios were the story in the first half. Bey, freshman forward Evan Battey and Wright IV combined for 25 points and 11 rebounds for Colorado. For the Sun Devils, Cherry, freshman guard Luguentz Dort and sophomore forward Romello White combined for 24 points. The game was tied 32 all at the break.

Junior forward Lucas Siewert splashed a three to open the scoring for the Buffaloes in the second half. Dort responded for Arizona State throwing down a baseline jam on a feed from sophomore guard Remy Martin as the Sun Devils took a 41-37 lead.

The Buffaloes were more successful against the zone in the second half. Bey scored six points for Colorado during a 9-2 run as they took a narrow two-point lead. The game flowed back and forth with multiple lead changes in the second half.

Junior guard Shane Gatling extended the Colorado lead to seven with two free throws late in the second half. The Buffs struggled from deep throughout the game shooting just 28 percent, but a McKInley Wright three gave Colorado their largest lead at eight with under three minutes to play.

Wright IV led the way for the Buffs late in the second half. He finished the game with a season-high 24 points. Bey and McKinley Wright IV connected on a lob with just under a minute to play to extend the Colorado lead to nine, their largest of the game.  

Bey closed the game out by grabbing two rebounds in the last 30 seconds, finishing with a career-high 17. Colorado defeated Arizona State 77-73. The Buffs are now .500 in conference play. They will take on Arizona at home on Sunday.

From tragedy to triumph: the story of Buffs commit D.J. Oats

Life hasn’t been easy for one Colorado Buffaloes’ 2019 commit. Daniel “D.J.” Oats has moved all around the country over the past few years. From the humble Midwest town of Mounds Illinois — which has a population of less than 800 — to Romeoville, Illinois — a five-hour jaunt up the road — to Arlington, Texas.

It wasn’t by choice that Oats moved around so much, and it also wasn’t for chasing the football dream either. His nomadic life has a much more tragic story than that.

As a young teenager, Oats lost his mother to breast cancer in his hometown of Mounds. It was then that he moved in with his father up the road to Romeoville. A year after losing his mother, Oats’ father, too, passed away following complications due to a heart attack.

It was then that Oats moved in with his grandmother, aunt and uncle in Texas, who all helped to raise the tragedy-stricken teen. It was there where the young athlete found refuge in family and in the game of football.

Competition became Oats’ outlet. He played baseball, basketball, football and ran track throughout high school. After a breakout season on the football field, Georgia Tech, Maryland and South Florida were among a handful of schools — in addition to Colorado — that expressed interest in Oats.

“He’s got a great story, I’m sure a lot have read about him,” head coach Mel Tucker said at the Signing Day press conference. “He’s just a special, special young man.”

Oats will now call Boulder, Colorado, home for the foreseeable future, where he’ll play football for the Buffaloes in hopes of helping the team anywhere he can.

After having only been the Buffs’ coach for a little over a month, Tucker invited Oats, a three-star athlete, to campus. Oats committed to Colorado during his official visit with Tucker in mid-January.

Oats is Tucker’s first prospect from Texas, though he’s added a few more since. The senior from Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington will join the truckload of Texas talent that’s already in Boulder. The Buffs’ roster currently boasts plenty of strength from the Lone Star State, highlighted by a pair of junior wide receivers, Laviska Shenault Jr. and K.D. Nixon, as well as Buffs’ senior quarterback Steven Montez.

Oats is quick. It’s one of the things that Tucker heard and read about Oats during the recruiting process.

“The fastest man in the country in his class, that’s what I read,” Tucker said. “This guy is extremely explosive. He’ll play defense for us. But as you’ll see, he can play offense. He’s a dynamic playmaker.”

His blazing speed was put on display last spring in Dallas where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds. Oats’ fastest 40-yard time, however, was a 4.25 unofficially. Don’t be surprised if he sees time early in his Colorado career on special teams, where he’ll return kicks and punts for the Buffs.

During his final high school season, Oats posted impressive offensive numbers as a running back. He rushed for over 1,000 yards while scoring 14 touchdowns, adding 130 yards receiving on 11 catches and another score. Despite his imposing offensive numbers, Oats will more than likely take his speed and athleticism to the defensive side of the ball and play cornerback for Colorado.

“He’s elusive; he’s got very good long speed,” Tucker said. “He can catch the ball, he can be a wildcat guy, he can be a bubble-screen guy, he can be a deep-threat guy; and defensively, he can run with any receiver in the country.”

Oats’ has the chance to be a difference maker on both sides of the ball early in his career at Colorado. With 4.3 speed and the ability to play multiple positions, Oats’ dynamic skill set separates him from most currently on the roster.

“He’s another versatile athlete for us that can do a lot, and it’s very rare to find a guy with this type of speed,” Tucker said. “And when you have a guy with this type of speed who can actually play football, I feel like you got to recruit him and you’ve got to try to sign him. We were very fortunate that we did that.”

Oats’ superior speed and experience at running back in high school will likely lead him to success for CU. If past talent, pure speed and ability to overcome some extreme adversity is any indication, the Lone Star State standout should become an integral piece wherever Tucker decides to put him.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑