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New walk-ons for CU men’s basketball set to include Centaurus’ Owen Koonce

Resurrection Christian’s Isaac Jessup also joining Buffs

BROOMFIELD, CO – DECEMBER 19:Centaurus High School’s Owen Koonce (No. 11) drives around Holy Family High School’s Blake Hammond (No. 5) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.(Photo by Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
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The loss of Frank Ryder will not be the only shakeup to the walk-on contingent of the Colorado men’s basketball team.

Ryder was one of four walk-ons dotting the CU roster the past two seasons but, as a former scholarship player at the University of San Diego, Ryder opted to continue his career at the University of Denver. Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle said he expects to add two more walk-ons to the 2020-21 roster to bolster the returning trio of AJ Martinka, Benan Ersek, and Aidan McQuade.

“We’re going to definitely add a couple walk-ons,” Boyle said. “Obviously Frank has moved on to DU, and I expect the walk-ons that we had to be a part of the program and we’ll work through that as the summer progresses.”

Boyle declined to name the newcomers until he is certain their application status has been cemented, but sources outside CU confirmed the two new walk-ons are expected to be former Centaurus star Owen Koonce and Isaac Jessup from Resurrection Christian in Loveland.

Koonce, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 19.7 points and 6.7 rebounds for a Centaurus squad that went 18-7 before losing in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament. A 2020 BoCoPreps.com first team All-Region selection, Koonce shot 56% overall from the floor with an impressive .525 mark (32-for-61) on 3-pointers.

Jessup is the younger brother of former Longmont High star Justinian Jessup, who this past season completed a solid career at Boise State as the Mountain West Conference’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers.

Resurrection Christian was undefeated and in the Class 3A state semifinals when the remainder of the basketball season was canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Isaac Jessup was a big reason why. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 16.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists for the Cougars while shooting 58% from the floor and .448 (64-for-143) on 3-pointers.

Now-former Resurrection Christian coach Bruce Dick, the fourth-winningest boys basketball coach in Colorado history, said that while Jessup is about four inches shorter than his older brother, they share similar skill sets.

“He understands the game beyond his years,” Dick said. “I think he’s really a diamond in the rough right now. Isaac probably does some things better than Justinian, and Justinian probably has a few things he does better than Isaac. The work ethic that Isaac has, this is a kid that wanted to shoot before school early in the morning and late at night. He’s going to be a big benefit and asset I think for coach Boyle’s program.

“What the Buffs are getting is just a quality kid. He’s a terrific student and there’s not going to be any problems off the court. He’s probably going there too with a little chip on his shoulder. I don’t really want to speak for him, but I think he wants to prove to people they screwed up.”