BOULDER – During the predawn hours last summer, CU’s D’Shawn Schwartz planted the seeds for the breakout season he’s having this winter for the 16th-ranked Buffs.
He convinced his trainer, Trey Harris, to buy a shot machine so he could shoot at 5 a.m. each morning in his hometown Colorado Springs gym, where the former Sand Creek star sank 500 shots a day. It was a grind that allowed him to sharpen his shooting mechanics as well as his mental toughness.
“We were monitoring the trajectory of the ball, we were counting swishes, how his feet were set, how close his feet were together,” Harris said. “It was meticulous and a different dynamic of shooting practice — it made him mentally lock in, and he’s carried that focus on preparation onto the court this season.”
Schwartz, a 6-foot-7 junior, is averaging 11.3 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Buffs, who sit tied with Oregon atop the Pac-12 standings heading into action late Saturday. He’s shooting 39.6% from 3-point range, and his uptick in production this season is a major reason why Colorado appears on its way to a fifth NCAA Tournament trip under coach Tad Boyle.
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“Last year, I was a starter, but I wasn’t playing at the level I feel like I’m capable of playing at,” Schwartz said. “Being able to lock in mentally was hard for me, because I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. But in the summer, I shifted my mindset. I stopped worrying about the results and started to worry about the process.”
Schwartz, who came to Boulder after an All-Colorado career at Sand Creek, found adjusting to Division I basketball from the Class 4A level “pretty difficult,” particularly at the defensive end.
“Freshman year, coach challenged him to be a better defender and rebounder, because he was mainly just a shooter at that point coming out of high school,” said redshirt sophomore forward Evan Battey, Schwartz’s roommate. “He set his eyes on those improvements, and now he’s one of our best defenders.”
Schwartz’s emergence as a potent scoring threat alongside Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV has added another dimension to CU’s offense. The Buffs are 14-2 when Schwartz scores in double digits; 5-4 when he doesn’t.
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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports