Men's basketball: CU Buffs add NAIA All-American Elijah Malone

Apr. 29—Colorado has found its central big man. And head coach Tad Boyle hopes the Buffaloes have uncovered a diamond in the rough.

On Monday, Boyle's Buffs received their third frontcourt transfer commitment of the spring, landing 6-foot-10 center Elijah Malone out of Grace College, an NAIA program in north central Indiana.

Malone was named the 2023-24 NAIA player of the year after leading Grace to a 34-2 record in a season that ended in the NAIA semifinals. Malone also landed the prestigious Bevo Francis Award, which honors the top small college player in the nation encompassing Division II, Division III, NAIA and the junior college levels.

Malone played in all 36 games this season for Grace, shooting .630 overall while averaging 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. He also shot a solid .369 from 3-point range and put up an .814 free throw percentage. In four seasons at Grace, Malone played in 139 games (117 starts), averaging 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting .653 overall and .394 (99-for-251) on 3-pointers. Malone also finished with a .722 career free throw percentage, shooting .696 at the line as a freshman before gradually improving along the way to this year's .814 mark (131-for-161).

A native of LaGrange, Ind., Malone visited Indiana prior to visiting CU, but the Hoosiers ultimately landed former Arizona center Oumar Ballo.

Malone is the third frontcourt player to join the Buffs this spring, following Washington State transfer Andrej Jakimovski and Trevor Baskin from Division II Colorado Mesa. Barring any further unexpected attrition, Boyle and his staff still have one open scholarship to use this spring.

The Buffs officially announced the signings of Malone, Jakimovski and Baskin on Monday.

"Elijah could have left Grace College after his sophomore or junior years and very easily gone to the Division I level," Boyle said in a release. "But the fact that he showed loyalty to his teammates and coaching staff that he signed with coming out of high school, that tells you everything you need to know about his character and kind of person he is. His value system and our value system are aligned very well.

"He wants to be able to prove himself at the highest level of college basketball and playing in the Big 12 is going to allow him the opportunity to do that. The way we play our style and the way he played at Grace College are very similar. So I feel really good about him in terms of what we lost and what we need for next year's team. He fits the bill perfectly."