Tad Boyle reacts to departures of Eddie Lampkin Jr., J’Vonne Hadley from CU Buffs

Eddie Lampkin Jr. and J’Vonne Hadley are gone. Joe Hurlburt is now, too.

Cody Williams has yet to make his NBA draft decision official. Point guard KJ Simpson will have a decision to make this spring as he goes through the pre-draft evaluation process.

Beyond that, head coach Tad Boyle expects the remainder of this season’s underclassmen to return for next year’s return to the Big 12 Conference for the Colorado men’s basketball team.

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Boyle earlier this week spoke with BuffZone regarding the loss of Lampkin and Hadley, both of whom announced their intentions to transfer less than 48 hours after a program-record 26-win season came to an end for the Buffs.

On Tuesday, Hurlburt, a redshirt freshman forward, also announced his intention to hit the transfer portal. Boyle, though, said he expects the other remaining projected scholarship returnees — Julian Hammond III, Javon Ruffin, RJ Smith, Bangot Dak, Assane Diop and Courtney Anderson — to remain in Boulder. (Senior Luke O’Brien also entered the transfer portal last week, but he has spoken for nearly a year that this would be his last season at CU.)

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Boyle partly attributed the abrupt timing of Lampkin and Hadley’s departure announcements as a circumstance of CU being on spring break last week. The Buffs returned to Boulder on Sunday evening, March 24, hours after their season-ending loss against Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.

Typically, Boyle conducts his season-ending, one-on-one meetings with each player over the course of a few days once the season hits the finish line. With the players ready to scatter for spring break, Boyle conducted all of those meetings last Monday. Hence, the announcements from Lampkin and Hadley last Tuesday.

“It’s a fallacy that they want to give kids a 60-day window to go into the transfer portal,” Boyle said. “The reality is, 90% of the kids know whether they’re going to go in the portal or not in the portal by the time the season’s over. They’ve thought about it. They’ve talked about it with their families. That’s just the reality.”

On3 sports reported that Hadley is expected to visit with Michigan State and Iowa State this week. Lampkin, one of only two Buffs who played all 37 games (also Simpson), reportedly was set to visit Syracuse on Tuesday. On Monday, Lampkin posted an interview on Instagram in which he responded to a question about whether he was open to a return to Boulder by saying, “You have to ask Tad.”

Later on Monday, Lampkin issued another post that read, in part, “I want to clarify I have nothing but positive experiences in Boulder. I am grateful for the opportunity to showcase my skills, improve my fitness, and become a better basketball player and person. Unfortunately, due to personal reasons, I cannot return to Boulder. After talking to my family it was the best decision to transfer. I want to make it clear that this decision has nothing to do with the coaching staff, especially Coach Boyle Rick Ray (sic) and Steve Englehart.”

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Asked if NIL opportunities helped sway Lampkin and Hadley’s decision, and if that is becoming a growing hurdle for recruiting at CU, Boyle responded:

“Those questions need to be answered by those guys, not by me,” Boyle said. “We were kind of late to the party when it came to that. But we understand the landscape we’re in. I don’t know if NIL was a part of their decisions or not, but NIL is certainly a part of college basketball, college football, and certainly more so with certain kids than others. And more so with certain schools than others. It’s something we continue to talk about, work on, fundraise for and address.”

Hurlburt redshirted as a true freshman in 2022-23 and played just 26 minutes in 10 games off the bench this year without scoring a point. The 6-foot-11 forward was facing long odds in cracking the frontcourt rotation next year behind Diop and Dak, as well as incoming freshman Sebastian Rancik and a likely frontcourt addition via the transfer portal.

As it stands, Boyle and his staff have two open scholarships to work with this spring, though that could change depending on the respective decisions of Williams and Simpson.

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