Strike 2: Never in the history of the program has the University of Colorado had a basketball player come to Boulder to play his (or her) freshman year only to bolt for the pros after one season. Cody Williams is likely to be CU’s very first one-and done.

The uber-talented five-star recruit from Arizona whom Tad Boyle inked last off season was so highly thought of coming into this season that it almost doesn’t even matter that his freshman campaign has thus far been a series of stops and starts. He was high up on draft boards before the season even tipped off. Now that the Buffs are 17 games (12-5) in, Williams is showing his considerable skills and potential – when he can stay on the court, that is.

Like most guys his age, Williams is far from fully developed physically. Listed at 6-foot-8, he’d have to be carrying a duffle bag full of gold coins on to the scale with him in order to make the game program weight – he’s listed at 190 lbs – close to accurate. But his length and athleticism are obvious, and if he can add some muscle, his NBA future is bright.

After coming back from a wrist injury that caused him to miss eight games, Williams has returned to being a key part of the Buffs offense. He scored 13 points on Saturday as the Buffs rallied past USC in Boulder. As a footnote, in his first career start, USC freshman Bronny James was held scoreless, including a layup attempt that was blocked by Williams.

It was back in late November, before he hurt his left wrist, that Williams had a coming out party of sorts. The game against rival Colorado State in Fort Collins was a microcosm of his season so far. Scoreless and nearly invisible in the first half, Williams went off in the second half, scoring 21 points while being virtually unguardable. He was getting to the rim pretty much whenever he wanted and he’s only going to get better as his outside game continues to improve.

Even though he hasn’t exactly lit up the stat sheet so far this season (Williams is averaging 14 pts/game through nine outings) he’s still projected to be as high as the second player picked in this summer’s NBA draft based on his skill set alone. That would be higher than Buffs legend Chauncey Billups, who was picked third overall by the Boston Celtics in 1997.

Ironically, Williams isn’t CU’s best player right now. KJ Simpson is. The Buffs point guard has been outstanding most of the season, especially while Williams and fellow standout Tristian De Silva have been out with injuries. The good news for Tad Boyle, whose team is now 3-3 in conference play, is that if CU’s “Big Three” can all get on and stay on the court at the same time, they’ll begin to mesh, and this team with Top 25 talent might get on a big time roll.

Doing so will greatly enhance CU’s NCAA Tournament resume, thereby putting an even bigger spotlight on Williams, whose older brother Jalen is already in the NBA with Oklahoma City.

No matter what happens, it certainly looks like Boyle is going to end up having something he previously said he never wanted – a one-and-done player. Question is, can he have him playing in late March?