For Colorado basketball fans still holding a candle for the hope of a return to Boulder by Jabari Walker, it is time to blow out that flame.
Additional reinforcements, however, already are on the way.
On Monday night, former Yale guard Jalen Gabbidon announced via his social media accounts that he will continue his collegiate career with the Colorado Buffaloes. The addition of Gabbidon puts the Buffs at a full projection of 13 scholarship players for the first time since last summer and all but shuts the door on a possible return by Walker.
Gabbidon, a 6-foot-5 guard, was on the floor for three seasons with the Bulldogs, ranking second on the team this past season at 11.3 points per game. Gabbidon shot .489 from the field and .806 at the free throw line, earning second team All-Ivy League honors while helping to lead Yale to the conference tournament championship.
Gabbidon scored four points with five rebounds in that conference championship game against Princeton and future CU teammate Ethan Wright, who scored 15 points in that game. Yale lost to Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Leadership, experience, versatility. He can guard multiple positions, play multiple positions,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I think with he and Ethan Wright, we got two of the top probably five or six players in the whole league this year. Jalen is very unique in his skill-set, but he’s also a really unique individual in terms of how bright he is, what his goals are. He knows who he is, and it’s nice to have such a self-aware player come into your program.”
During the 2019-20 season, Gabbidon started all 30 games for Yale, averaging 5.9 points while getting named as the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year. The Ivy League did not compete during the 2020-21 season, but over his final two seasons on the floor for Yale, Gabbidon shot .453 overall with a .318 mark on 3-pointers (54-for-170).
Gabbidon will be one of five newcomers for the 2022-23 Buffs, a list that includes Wright, junior college transfer J’Vonne Hadley, and incoming freshmen Joe Hurlburt and RJ Smith. Like Wright, Gabbidon had to transfer if he wanted to use his final year of eligibility, as the Ivy League does not allow graduate students to compete in varsity athletics.
“They’re loyal, they’re hardworking, they come from winning programs — those boxes are very important to me,” Boyle said. “Jalen is a terrific, terrific young man and he’s coming from a heck of a program.”
As for Walker, Boyle previously told BuffZone the door was not yet shut on a return to Boulder for Walker, a first team All-Pac-12 selection this past season, despite comments made by his father, former NBA veteran Samaki Walker, that his son was “all in” on pursuing a pro career.
The finality of the latest roster shuffle for the Buffs is not much of a surprise. Despite a lack of a formal announcement from Walker regarding his final decision about remaining in the draft pool, he enjoyed a solid showing this past week at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. In two official scrimmages, Walker shot 12-for-22 (2-for-5 on 3-pointers) while averaging 14 points and seven rebounds.