In some ways, recruiting isn’t much different than managing the Xs and Os during any given college basketball game.
When an unexpected hurdle arises, the burden is on the coaching staff to adjust.
Colorado men’s coach Tad Boyle and his staff, particularly associate head coach Mike Rohn, did that last spring when a wrench was thrown into their recruiting plans. And it led to an intriguing opportunity opening in Boulder for junior college transfer J’Vonne Hadley.
This past spring, the Buffaloes landed an intriguing prospect in Bobi Klintman, a 6-foot-10 forward from Sweden who had been competing at Sunrise Academy in Kansas. But when academic compliance issues closed the door on Klintman’s prospects at CU (he eventually landed at Wake Forest), the Buffs had a big hole to fill in the frontcourt.
Enter Hadley. At 6-foot-6, Hadley doesn’t sport Klintman’s size, but he looks to bring elements of athleticism, versatility and energy to CU’s forward rotation.
“Kudos to Mike Rohn. We had a little bit of a curveball thrown at us with the recruitment of Bobi Klintman last spring,” Boyle said. “When that went south, we were in desperate need of a big guy. Especially with Jabari (Walker’s) decision to leave for the NBA, we knew we had to sign a good, quality big. We thought we had that with Bobi.
“When that didn’t happen coach Rohn, who is the ultimate grinder in recruiting, said he let this kid (Hadley) know if we had an opening in the spring, we’re going to be interested. And we did. He was still available, and we got a hell of a player.”
Hadley traveled a similar road as former CU guard Shane Gatling, playing one season of Division I basketball along the east coast (in Hadley’s case, Northeastern) before transferring to Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.
Hadley believes he is much more ready for Division I basketball than he was coming out of high school in St. Paul, Minn.
“I’d say it was a little bit physically and mentally,” Hadley said of how Indian Hills prepped him for a return to the Division I level. “At Northeastern I struggled a little bit. I was just a freshman and I didn’t know much about college life. I was a little bit smaller than everybody. Over the years I bulked up a little bit. Ever since I got here me and Steve (Englehart, CU’s strength coach) have been working every day. I grew a little bit. I can see my body transforming, and that was kind of the goal as I made my decision here. His program that he puts us through is outstanding.”
Hadley made the most of his lone season at Indian Hills, averaging 10.9 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting .548 overall and .354 from 3-point range. Those numbers were even more impressive during a 14-game tear to end the season, as he averaged 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds with an overall shooting percentage of .628. He also shot .406 (13-for-32) on 3-point range during that 14-game run.
At CU, Hadley might be somewhat undersized for a player expected to help pick up the rebounding void from Walker and Evan Battey. What he lacks in size he hopes to offset with his quick leaping ability and abundance of energy.
Thanks to the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA for the 2020-21 season, Hadley still has three years of eligibility remaining.
“Energy is the biggest thing for me,” Hadley said. “Just being there for my guys, because I ask the same in return. If a whole team is doing that, it’s hard to beat. If you really find a team that’s united as one, they’re a tough team to beat. And that’s one of our goals this year.”