When Colorado head coach Tad Boyle recruited Spencer Dinwiddie out of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, he sold him on the fact that he could return to Los Angeles and do some special things.
“Spencer and I talked about it on the phone, coming back to L.A. and making a statement,” Boyle said.
Last Saturday, the Buffaloes affirmed the conversation. It was Dinwiddie leading the charge, pacing the Buffaloes with 14 points in their Pac-12 Championship win over Arizona.
“Opportunities like this (attracted me to Colorado),” Dinwiddie said. “I knew this was going to be a place I could play early. (Coach Boyle) pitched that to me. He talked about coming back home and playing against schools that should have recruited me harder.”
At the top of that list is UCLA. Ben Howland acknowledged Dinwiddie as a recruiting miss on the part of the Bruins during Colorado’s visit to Los Angeles earlier in the season.
Dinwiddie, meanwhile, didn’t have a great start to his first Pac-12 Tournament. He was 1-for-7 from 3-point range entering last Saturday’s championship game against Arizona.
In the clincher, he stepped up and knocked down all four of his 3-point shots. Although he wasn’t shooting the ball well to start the tournament, he got the confidence to turn it around from his teammates.
“I just credit the seniors for believing in me,” Dinwiddie said. “They told me, ‘Don’t stop shooting.’ Even though I was in a little bit of a slump throughout the tournament, they said, ‘When we pass it to you, make the shot.'”
He’s one of four players that hail from Southern California for the Buffaloes, who just last week were the darlings of the Pac-12 Tournament. Along with Dinwiddie are junior Shannon Sharpe (Corona Centennial), fellow freshmen Askia Booker (Price), and Pac-12 Tournament MOP Carlon Brown (Riverside King).
In Boyle’s second season, Colorado’s California connection has helped the Buffaloes reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. As a No. 11 seed, they are a pick of many to upset sixth-seeded UNLV in the second round.
“These guys have come in with a confidence and a little bit of a swagger about them. Sometimes that’s a good thing,” Boyle said. “That’s what helps you win games. You’ve got to have a little bit of that to win.”
Dinwiddie’s 14 points last Saturday matched his total from the last time he won a championship in Los Angeles. In March of 2011, he totaled 14 points and 12 assists against Westchester while helping Taft capture its third Los Angeles City Section Championship. He joined former Laker Jordan Farmar and current UCLA Bruin Larry Drew II as Taft point guards to win a city title.
While Dinwiddie was etching his name in Los Angeles City Section history, the Buffaloes were being snubbed by the NCAA selection committee. Despite having a 21-13 record and making a run to the Big 12 semifinals, the Buffaloes were left out of last year’s big dance.
It’s been a driving force for them this season.
“Last year’s snub still hurts today,” Boyle said. “Probably hurts more today than it did last year at this time. I’m probably more proud of this team for accomplishing what they accomplished because I realize how hard it is to get here, and how many good teams there are that aren’t in this tournament.”
One of the many topics Dinwiddie and Boyle discussed over the phone during the point guard’s recruitment was getting Colorado back into the NCAA tournament. As it turns out, Colorado’s tournament bid was just a phone call away.