Crafted by JUCO, Colorado guard Maddox Daniels ready for significant role with Buffs

Colorado men’s basketball junior guard Maddox Daniels grew up with a burning desire to play division one college basketball. Daniels went to high school in Beverley Hills, California alongside his twin brother, Mason. After attending prep school at Montverde Academy in Florida in hopes of garnering attention, Daniels graduated high school without a single division one offer.

Daniels and his brother went to junior college in Fort Myers, Florida at SouthWestern State College. Their, the two led the Buccaneers to a record of 60-6 in two seasons, reaching the NJCAA National Tournament quarterfinal twice. Daniels averaged over just 11 points per game and shot 42% from beyond the arc during his junior college career.

“Going in as a freshman, I was just working on my body, starting to learn the game more,” Maddox said. “I had great coaches there. Coach Marty Richter and then coach Eric Murphy. I just worked on all aspects of my game. Definitely the biggest thing was just my physicality, working on my body.”

Mason said his brother’s decision to attend college in Florida helped him further develop his game and was happy they could share the experience together.

“I definitely think that (Florida) for Maddox was one of the best decisions he’s ever made,” Mason said. “I know he’ll probably say that too, just because of the people he met and how much better he got being there. I’m just glad I could come there with him.”

His sophomore year as FSW, Daniels’ developed leadership ability. The experience Daniels gained leading a team to back to back postseason tournament appearances allowed his maturity to evolve in just two years in JUCO with the Buccaneers.

“My sophomore year, I just really felt comfortable on the court and I was leading,” Daniels said. “It was really great to see hard work pay off because coming out of high school no offers, went to prep school, nothing and I just kept working, trust the process and that’s what I’m going to continue to do here.”

CU basketball head coach Tad Boyle and assistant coach Mike Rohn made an initial impact on Daniels after spending time in Fort Myers for the second half of Maddox’s sophomore season. Daniels said once he took a visit to Boulder, he knew it was the place for him.

“Coach Rohn and coach Boyle started talking to me toward the second half of the (junior college) season in the spring and they both came down … to see me in Fort Myers,” Daniels said. “I really liked the school. (Rohn and Boyle) were just there consistently all through the second half of the season, through the playoffs, through the wins, through the losses, through everything. Once I came and took my visit (to Colorado) and met all the players, all the coaches and everybody else beyond coach Boyle and coach Rohn, I knew this was the place to be. It was an easy decision.”

Health, wellness and fitness are integral parts of the lives of Daniels and his brother. The twins feed off and motivate each other in these areas and life in general. Mason said because of Boulder’s notoriety as a hub for health and wellness, Daniels felt right at home.

“I was happy for him,” Mason said. “I remember he called me on the phone and he was like, ‘man, it’s amazing here.’ We have a lot of other interests apart from basketball and we enjoy taking care our bodies and stuff like that. So, this was something that, being in Boulder, a health and fitness capital, was a big-time thing for him. He loved the coaches. They really wanted him, so I just told him ‘yeah bro, it seems like a no-brainer.’”

Since arriving on campus early this summer, Daniels has made the improving his defensive skillset a priority. He said there a few small details to learn that will come with practice, but defense and decision-making were the focus over the summer leading up to the Buffs’ exhibition with Pomona-Pitzer on October 26.

“I would definitely say defensively as far as just guarding the ball,” Daniels said. “I need to get better as far as positioning, the little things that are different from what I’m used to as far as playing help side defense. But, I would say defensively and making quicker decisions.”

Daniels added that from an offensive standpoint, it’ll start with perimeter shooting, providing a spark for the Buffs by moving without the ball and catching and shooting.

“Definitely it’s going to start with being able to bring in shooting on the perimeter, playing with confidence,” Daniels said. “That’s the biggest thing we talked about, being a perimeter presence that spaces the floor. When I get a look, just knocking it down be confident about it. And improve on my own game as we go, whatever the team needs. We’re focused on winning games, so whatever that entails that’s what I want to do.”

Daniels said it’ll be important for him to “fit in smoothly”. The 6-foot 6-inch forward from Suwanee, Georgia will likely spell junior forward D’Shawn Schwartz and sophomore guard Daylen Kountz, who Boyle mentioned as a guy that’ll play a larger role for the Buffs this season.

Because of his size, Daniels should be able to guard the one through the four defensively, something that will allow him to see more playing time for a deep and experienced Colorado team.

Hot shooting carries Buffs to fifth straight win

The Colorado Buffaloes and Arizona Wildcats faced off at the CU Events Center on Sunday night. The Buffs looked to extend their winning streak to five games with a win over the Wildcats. Meanwhile, Arizona looked to snap a six game losing streak.

Sophomore forward Tyler Bey scored the first four points of the game as Colorado led 6-0 early. The Buffs hot shooting continued when sophomore guard Shane Gatling splashed a three and knocked down two free throws to put Colorado up 15-5.

Junior forward Lucas Siewert (4th in the Pac-12 in three point percentage) hit a three to give the Buffs their largest lead at 11. Colorado knocked down ten of their first 11 shots to begin the contest. A layup from Bey gave the Buffs a 27-16 lead, matching their largest of the game.

Colorado’s hot shooting continued with a jump shot from freshman forward Evan Battey. Battey began the game a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.

The three point shot kept the Wildcats in striking distance. They knocked down four in the first half. A scoring drought of over five minutes for the Buffs allowed Arizona to stay in the game. It was a six point game with just under a minute to play in the half. A pair of free throws from Siewert gave Colorado an eight point lead. However, a jam from sophomore forward Ira Lee cut the Buffs lead the six as time ran out in the first half.

Siewert led the way in the first half for the Buffs, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds. Senior forward Ryan Luther splashed three triples in the first half to keep the Wildcats in the game.

Junior forward Chase Jeter scored the first four points of the second half for the Wildcats, as Colorado’s lead was cut to two. Junior guard Shane Gatling opened the scoring for the Buffs in the second half with a layup.

Colorado struggled shooting the ball to begin the second half scoring just one of their first five. A floater from Luther tied the game at 36 with just over 15 minutes to play. A few moments later McKinley Wright IV and one gave the Buffs a 38-36 lead.

Wright IV scored seven straight for Colorado to give the Buffs a 43-36 lead. Bey was impressive on the glass for Colorado snagging seven boards (hw finished with ten)  with just under 14 minutes to play in the second half.

A Gatling jumper and Bey dunk gave Colorado an eight point lead. The Buffs were efficient from the free throw line throughout the game knocking down 14 of 15. A three from sophomore guard D’Shawn Schwartz gave Colorado a 12 point lead with under eleven minutes to play in the second half.

Since Arizona tied the game at 36, the Buffs went on a 17-5 run to take their largest lead of the game. Junior guard Dylan Smith scored four straight for the Wildcats to cut the deficit to seven.

A Siewert drive and score extended the Colorado lead to ten. A Smith three cut the Colorado lead to seven with two and a half minutes remaining. A Lee block on Wright IV gave Arizona the ball, however Colorado stopped the Wildcats on the following possession.

A pair of free throws from Gatling gave the Buffs a nine point lead with 30 seconds remaining. Colorado defeated the Wildcats 67-60. Wright IV and Siewert carried the load for Colorado scoring 14 and 15 points respectively.

Head coach Tad Boyle said of Wright IV, “The kids got the heart of a lion. He’s just a big shot taker and a big shot maker.” Colorado improves to 16-9, 7-6 in conference play.

A victory for the Buffs gave the Wildcats their seventh straight loss, something that hasn’t happened since 1983. The Buffs will travel to Pullman to take on Washington State on Wednesday night.

 

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.

Life Experiences Have Led Brad Underwood Back To Oklahoma State

Once recruited to play at Oklahoma State, head basketball coach Brad Underwood is now part of the Cowboys family.

Kansas Jayhawks head basketball coach Bill Self didn’t succeed in his first recruiting job. Self played for Oklahoma State University from 1981-1985, and while a player in Stillwater, Okla., he got a chance to recruit current Cowboys head basketball coach, Brad Underwood. During Underwood’s visit to Stillwater, Self was his campus tour guide.

“Eskimo Joe’s was a part of the recruiting visit, and sorority row,” Underwood, who Oklahoma State hired in March, said. “Bill took me out, we joke and kid all the time that he wasn’t that good of a recruiter back then because I didn’t come here.”

The reason behind Underwood deciding not to attend school at Oklahoma State is because then Cowboys head coach Paul Hansen was on his way out the door. Underwood, instead, chose to play his collegiate basketball at Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.

Before he undertakes his first season as Cowboys head coach, Underwood admitted that coaching against Self twice a year will be extremely difficult.

“When you win twelve straight championships (Big 12 regular season titles), it’s never easy coaching against friends and I had to do that this year in the NCAA tournament (against) a mentor, Bob Huggins of West Virginia.”

Before he accepted the Oklahoma State job roughly three months ago, Underwood’s Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin defeated Huggins’ Mountaineers in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Underwood said maintaining that competitive edge, coaching against friends, is extremely difficult.  For 40 minutes, focus has to stay on the players, and personal relationships have to be pushed to the background.

Underwood has had several extremely influential people in his life. He mentioned former Western Illinois head coach Jim Kerwin, who Underwood worked under as an assistant coach for a decade. Underwood also acknowledged Jack Hartman, a former assistant coach at Oklahoma State and Underwood’s coach during his time as a player in Manhattan.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Underwood said. “Everybody’s a winner. All those coaches have one thing in common, and that’s winning.”

Throughout his evolution as a coach, Underwood has taken ideas from all of his influences.

“I’ve learned some things I liked, I’ve learned some things that I don’t like,” Underwood said.

The challenge as a coach is applying those philosophies and tips from other coaches, and manipulating them so they fit within the personalities of the staff and players on the team. Underwood’s challenge in 2016 will be getting the most out of his players. To survive the Big 12 gauntlet, Underwood’s Cowboys will have to play to their fullest capabilities in hopes of earning a berth in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Changing the culture of a program doesn’t happen overnight, but Oklahoma State’s hiring of Underwood is a step in the right direction.

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