Injured Colorado men's basketball guard Javon Ruffin again headed to knee surgery

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Mar. 17—The Colorado men's basketball team is not yet done trying to make something positive out of its up-and-down 2022-23 season.

However, the Buffaloes already have suffered a significant setback for their upcoming offseason workouts ahead of what should be a promising 2023-24 campaign.

On Thursday, CU head coach Tad Boyle offered an update on injured guard Javon Ruffin. Not only will Ruffin's troublesome knee keep him sidelined for the remainder of the NIT, but the redshirt freshman soon will undergo surgery that will, at the very least, curtail the start of his offseason workouts.

Ruffin was one of the more consistent long-range threats on a team that struggled on 3-pointers, but he has missed 10 games and counting during two different stints on the sideline due to the injury. Ruffin has not endured the latest surgery yet, but when he does it will be his third procedure on the same knee in two years.

"His knee is just not ready and it's going to require some surgery," Boyle said. "It's unfortunate. It's tough. His spirits are as good as can be expected. It's something I've talked to him about. I want to make sure, post-surgery, that he still has the mindset. We'll have our year-end individual meetings with all of these guys, him included, and I want to give him time to process it."

It was almost two years ago, toward the end of Ruffin's senior year of high school, when he first underwent surgery to repair damage from a dislocated kneecap. Ruffin originally was hoping for a midseason return as a true freshman in the 2021-22 season, but after experiencing a setback during the preseason he went through a second surgery, described by Boyle at the time as a "clean-up" procedure. Ruffin ultimately redshirted.

Ruffin played in the first 19 games this season, coming off the bench in all but two of those games, and was perhaps pushing for a spot in the starting lineup in place of struggling guard Nique Clifford after a combined 23 points with eight rebounds and a 10-for-10 mark at the free throw line in CU's losses at USC and UCLA in mid-January. However, Ruffin suffered another setback the following week and missed the next four games.

Ruffin struggled through a slow start upon his return, going 0-for-4 on 3-pointers with a combined 10 points in three games. Yet just as he got on track once again — Ruffin scored 10 points, eight of them in the final four and a half minutes, with a season-high seven rebounds in a win at Arizona State before scoring 13 points at Arizona — Ruffin's knee again forced him to the sideline. He hasn't played since.

Boyle didn't give a timeline for Ruffin's recovery but said he wouldn't be a full participant in summer workouts.

As the Buffs returned from an off-day to resume practice on Thursday in preparation for Sunday's second-round home date in the NIT against Utah Valley (7:30 p.m., ESPNU), Boyle reiterated his remarks following Tuesday's first-round win against Seton Hall that mono-stricken guard KJ Simpson isn't expected to play on Sunday.

Given that Simpson has been unable to do any conditioning drills since he was diagnosed two weeks ago, the potential for his return, even in the event of a run to the NIT Final Four, grows more unlikely with each passing day.

"I don't really have any feel for that," Boyle said. "He had another round of tests on Monday and the doctors didn't feel like he's ready to go. It's going to be hard for him to ramp back up into game speed after being out this long."