As a prep star, you have your day of classes, and then your entire focus can be trained solely on hoops.
At Colorado, Assane Diop and his fellow rookies are adjusting to their new routines.
For Diop, fellow true freshman Bangot Dak and redshirt freshman Joe Hurlburt, part of that routine has been attempting to take advantage of the extra preseason reps they’re being afforded while Eddie Lampkin Jr. recovers from a back injury. Lampkin is on the mend and still targeting a full return ahead of the Nov. 6 opener at home against Towson, but the youngsters behind him are getting an extended look as the Buffaloes continue working through preseason workouts.
“I think combining class and practice. Practice in the morning and then right to class. I think combining that has been hard,” Diop said of his first two weeks of practice with the Buffs. “It’s way different right now. Practice is way harder. You’re playing with better dudes. That’s the biggest change from high school to college. But I think I’m doing really well. I’m trying to learn every day. They’re helping me every day because sometimes the language is hard, but I’m getting better every day.”
Assuming Lampkin returns without any setbacks, Dak, signed late in the spring out of Lincoln, Neb., could still be ticketed for a developmental year as a redshirt to add bulk to his lean 6-foot-9, 180-pound frame. Even in the five-out offensive system the Buffs plan to employ this season, someone will need to fill post minutes off the bench, primarily for specific defensive matchups. Diop, a native of Senegal who spent his prep years in Denver, is an extremely athletic 6-foot-10 forward who CU head coach Tad Boyle believes will fit in well with the five-out system.
“There’s no doubt about it, Assane and BD are getting major, major reps. And Joe as well,” Boyle said. “They’re getting a lot of opportunities to show what they can do and prepare themselves for minutes when the time comes.
“Eddie, how quickly he acclimates physically and mentally, he’s missed a lot of teaching. He’s missed a lot of reps here in the first practices and all fall workouts. We’ll get a feel for that as we go.”
Lampkin, a 6-foot-11 transfer from TCU, began light workouts this week, including a few short shooting drills as he ramps up his physical activity. Boyle said it will be at least another week before Lampkin returns to the floor, and even then he will be limited to non-contact drills.
Even though Lampkin’s absence has allowed Diop to take extended reps, he already is looking forward to how Lampkin’s return will give him another physical interior presence to compete against.
“I don’t really think (Lampkin) being out has helped me, because I think he’s a guy whose really physical, and that helps my game,” Diop said. “Him being out makes it less physical for me. For me, what I want is to be able (work) harder. Because we want to win. We don’t just want to play the game and be in the gym. We want to win every game. Him getting back is what’s best for us.
“I really don’t care about the playing time right now. What I care about is just getting better.”