April 27, 2015
Derrick White is no longer a Mountain Lion. Better get used to it, UCCS fans.
The big brother in Boulder took him away from the little brother in Colorado Springs, and after a year of not competing due to transfer rules, White will play for the Buffs.
I don’t begrudge him the choice. Decisions are made with the information at hand at the time, and he is looking to his future, a future he thinks will be better in Boulder.
Will he succeed at Boulder? I think yes.
But it doesn’t matter, really. Not to us.
Life goes on, and the important question for us is what the departure of Derrick White means for UCCS and fans of the team they have seen explode into relevance the past two seasons.
It means the weight of the success of next season will sit on the shoulders of White’s former partner in crime, forward Alex Welsh. The kid is no slouch, he averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season.
He’s not Derrick White. He can’t beat defenders off the dribble. But that’s not his game; he’s a big guy that works in the paint with cold efficiency. Then, he can step back and hit three’s with regularity.
More importantly, Welsh has the stuff to be a leader. The skill, the experience and the sheer grittiness needed in the RMAC.
It means a previously almost automatic RMAC Championship will be impractical, though still inside the realm of possibility.
It means the role players of the last two years, namely guard TreShawn Wilford and forward Dalton Patten, have to become more than that and step into leadership roles both on and off the court.
It means head coach Jeff Culver will earn his pay. His program will be tested, his recruiting will be tested and his ability to create buy-in from players will be tested.
Lost in the Derrick White story is the fact that UCCS will lack its spark plug next year due to Darius Pardner’s graduation. The timely three-pointers from Tim Billingsley will also graduate.
It will be up to Culver to remedy these potential pitfalls.
Despite his move to Boulder, the “Derrick White effect” will help Culver in his quest to start fresh in Colorado Springs. The foundation for a great program was laid by White, even if he didn’t see it to the end, and Culver has to capitalize on that while the glow is still here.
Culver must continue to find the hidden gems like White, who wasn’t recruited by anyone besides UCCS.
This search for hidden gems must be in tandem with the improved reputation of UCCS basketball that will allow Culver to recruit the best in the state, like Blend Avdili and Chris Moody, two of the top ten seniors from Colorado as rated by ESPN.
Those two signed national letters of intent with UCCS April 17. It’s a great start for a program that had two winning seasons in its entire history before White’s sophomore year.
As the Derrick White era ends, a new age begins for men’s basketball.