Lawson Lovering has announced he’s entering the transfer portal, which serves a sizable blow to the high hopes surrounding the 2023-2024 Colorado Buffaloes.

The first moment that it appeared like Tad Boyle was building a new iteration of something exciting up in Boulder, was when he landed Lovering, a highly touted seven-foot, 4-Star center (with a 0.976 composite score per 247 sports, which, at the time, was the second-highest composite score ever received by a Colorado signee) from Wyoming, as the crown jewel for his 2021 class.

Lawson Lovering was an athletic high school center who boasted the talent to anchor both the offense and defense for CU, and he immediately became a factor for the Buffs, averaging 10.7 minutes a night, though the production didn’t quite match. In year two, he became a defensive focal point, but he failed to average even five points per game, and finished fourth on the team in rebounds per game, despite starting every contest and being the team’s only seven-foot player with playing time.

In his final game with the Buffaloes, Lovering finally showcased the offensive talent everyone had been waiting to emerge. He scored 10 of Colorado’s first 21 points, and finished the night with 21 points himself, on just 13 shots.

That was huge as the one big question for the 2023-2024 Colorado Buffaloes — a team set to possess second-team all-conference point guard K.J. Simpson; late-season scoring star Julian Hammond; the defensive stalwart and leading rebounder J’Vonne Hadley; first-team all-conference forward and midrange savant Tristan Da Silva; and top-10 recruit Cody Williams — was the lack of an elite big.

Could Lawson Lovering develop into that, or would CU have to search elsewhere? Now, they don’t have a choice. They’ll have to find it elsewhere.

Fortunately, they have options.

The top signing from the Buffs’ 2022 class was 6-foot-10 center Joe Hurlbut, who didn’t play this season but does possess quite a bit of promise, as demonstrated by his 3-Star, 0.932 composite ranking. He’s the 12th-highest-rated basketball recruit in program history, and for the sake of comparison, Tyler Bey ranks 13th, Jabari Walker ranks 14th, and Spencer Dinwiddie ranks 17th.

Also, although he’s been outshined by Cody Williams, Asane Diop is another highly recruited player (4-Star, 0.959 composite score) in the 2023 class that’s headed to CU. Diop is a 6-foot center from Denver, who was targeted by more respected programs like Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Kansas State, Memphis, and Seton Hall, but chose to stay home, where he’ll become the Buffaloes’ eighth-highest-rated recruit in program history.

That means, even with the loss of Lawson Lovering (who currently ranks as Colorado’s third-highest-rated basketball recruit ever, per 247 Sports Composite) Tad Boyle is still set to have the four of program’s top eight recruits ever on his roster this fall.