BOULDER – Not long after Tad Boyle was named Colorado men’s basketball coach in April 2010, he began a courtship of a slight but highly skilled Denver point guard named Dominique Collier.
Boyle had to get in line.
On the national recruiting scene, the most elite high school hoops circles began and ended with Collier. Scholarship offers arrived at the Collier home from Arizona, UCLA, Gonzaga, Oregon, Kansas State, Iowa and other schools highlighted on basketball’s national map.
But as the recruiting process went on, the clearer Collier’s decision became to him, the Buffs and several of the schools in pursuit. “The longer it went,” said Boyle, “it became pretty clear that he was ours to lose.”
The Buffs didn’t. And after narrowing the field in early May, Collier verbally committed to Boyle and the Buffs.
On Wednesday, he completed the promise, signing CU’s binding national letter of intent on the first day that high school prospects are allowed to do so. Also signing and returning CU’s national letter of intent was power forward Tory Miller, of New Hampton (N.H.) Prep.
Collier told BuffStampede.com that he “just like the way that (Boyle) has changed the program around. I like the way he coaches, the team and the relationships I have with the staff. It’s great to be born and raised in Colorado, go to high school in Colorado and then college in Colorado. I’m a Colorado kid. To go there and have all the support you could have, to follow in Chauncey Billup’s footsteps (means a lot).”
For Boyle, landing Collier represents another in-state recruiting milestone. Boyle and his staff managed to keep the in-state Class of 2012’s highest profile members – Josh Scott of Lewis-Palmer and Wesley Gordon of Sierra – at home.
Not far behind those two on CU's in-state "must-get" list in the same class was guard Xavier Talton, of Sterling.
But, said Boyle, "Outside of Josh and Wes, Dominique was the marquee recruit we had to keep home. We did – and we’re thankful and happy for it. He won’t be the last, but it’s critical for the program that we continue to have the success that we’ve had with those three.
“I said three-and-a-half years ago that if players of (Collier’s) caliber can help us win the Pac-12, then it’s imperative for us to get them. That’s what kind of player he is. I appreciate that he wanted to stay home. I’m very excited about it.”
Collier, said CU assistant Rodney Billups, was targeted early by CU, a move that obviously paid off: “Coach Boyle always said, ‘He’s our guy,’ and he got our best shot.”
Collier already lists several current CU players as friends, among them Scott and Gordon. They played together two seasons ago in an all-star game when Scott and Gordon were finishing at their respective high schools. The 6-10 Scott played last season as a true freshman, while the 6-9 Gordon redshirted. The high school rivals finally are sharing court time on this year’s Buffs team, which plays Wyoming Wednesday (7 p.m.) at the Coors Events Center.
Boyle said the Collier family “became part of our family” during the recruitment process and called working with veteran Denver East coach Rudy Carey a “tremendous experience.”
Collier has often stated a desire to emulate CU legend Chauncey Billups, who went on to make a lasting mark in the NBA. Rodney, Billups’ younger brother, was key in Collier’s recruitment – “Maybe more so than I was,” Boyle said. “Rodney obviously has ties in the Denver basketball community. He really was our lead recruiter (on Collier). Dominique’s family (parents Lori and Darryl) love Rodney; he made a good connection with them.”
“I’ve had a relationship with ‘Dom’ for a long time now,” Rodney Billups said. “He started out with Billups Elite when he was a freshman, really going into his eighth grade year. I had a chance before I was even at Colorado to build a relationship with him and his family. Just talking to him and recruiting him was kind of easy for me.”
Collier, an only child, is “a great kid, shy at times, but his personality really comes out on the court,” Rodney Billups said. “There’s a good balance there for him to have a really good character. Staying home was important to him and his family, especially Lori – that’s her baby. She wants him close.”
Boyle said landing Collier and Miller fills two needs for the Buffs – a savvy ball-handler in Collier who is a “terrific talent and great defender” and a big-bodied “enforcer type” in Miller.
A capsule look at CU’s two 2014 signees:
Position: Point guard
High school: Denver East
Vital stats/storylines: Averaged 20.1 points, 3.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game as a junior; East went 25-3, lost to Eaglecrest in the 5A state championship game at the Coors Events Center . . . . Four-star prospect, currently ranked No. 94 nationally . . . Collier was named Colorado Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year after junior season . . . . Top western schools – including Pac-12 members Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA – took an intense in Collier during his sophomore and early in his junior seasons. But as the recruiting process lengthened it became apparent that he had targeted CU . . . Iowa and Kansas State also joined the pursuit . . . . Collier verbally committed to the Buffs on May 7.
CU scouting report: A pass-first, very unselfish type of point guard who already has international basketball experience (USA Basketball, three-on-three competition in Indonesia with FIBA’s USA team) gained through summer travels . . . . Can get wherever he wants to on the court with his tremendous first step and ball-handling skills . . . . A very good on-ball defender with great anticipation.
Boyle’s take: “He’s got a good basketball body, but he’s a little slight right now and knows he's going to spend some time in the weight room. I love that he can get wherever he wants to go on the court. Plus, he’s got lots of experience – more than the typical incoming freshman. I expect him to have an impact right away. In fact, I’m counting on it.”
Position: Power forward
High school: New Hampton (N.H.) Prep
Vital stats/storylines: Averaged 12.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and shot 58.7 percent from the field last year in his junior season at New Hampton . . . . A three-star prospect whose rating could rise after his senior season . . . . Miller is from the Kansas City area and played on the same AAU team (Kansas City Run GMC) as fellow CU signee Collier . . . . Took official visits to Arizona State, Marquette and Iowa, but committed to CU over Marquette on Oct. 19 . . . . Eric Bossi, Rivals.com’s national basketball recruiting analyst, said Miller “can be a rugged rebounder and explosive finisher around the rim capable of playing through contact. (He) can also step out and make 12-to-15 foot jumpers with pretty good regularity . . . and he’s physically ready to play in the Pac-12.”
CU scouting report: Big, wide-bodied player who is physically ready to compete at the next level . . . . Roster is well-stocked with runners, jumpers and finesse-type players – and Miller also can play with finesse, but he’s best as an enforcer type . . . . Good hands, long arms make him a capable shot blocker; plays bigger than 6-8 . . . . What makes him special is his big body, his ability to use to his advantage on defense and his ability to lower his center of gravity, making him difficult to move.
Boyle’s take: “Tory gives us a wide presence that we haven’t had since I’ve been here. He’s a skilled player and very competitive. With his body type and strength, he can finish down low with contact. He doesn’t look like he would be a good jumper, but he is. Plus, he’s 19 years old now and will bring an age and maturity level to us that’s a little further along than you’d find in a typical freshman. He’s got all the physical tools necessary to be a very good Pac-12 player and he understands what it means to be successful.”
Rivals.com contributed to this release