SAN FRANCISCO — Sitting next to the coach who once saw gold in him and hoped to once see it on him, Spencer Dinwiddie dropped a bomb on Pac-12 media day.
He essentially said that despite the ranking of Arizona as the team’s presumptive Pac-12 favorite, he viewed his Colorado Buffaloes as the cream of the conference crop.
When he was finished, Colorado coach Tad Boyle laughed and grinned at his precocious point guard.
“Confidence has never been one of Spencer’s problems,” Boyle said to assorted Pac-12 media, who descended upon San Francisco’s Pac-12 Networks Studios for the conference media day, which assembled the league’s coaches and its best, brightest players.
Dinwiddie counts himself among them, and he’ll remind you and he’ll remind his coaches and he’ll remind himself. Over and over, rinse and repeat.
If the confidence seems foolhardy, over the top, it’s because the hype on the Colorado junior never was.
Sometimes if no one else is willing to shout your name, you’ve got to shout it for yourself.
“You look at who came here, we have a lot of great players, but I want to prove I’m the best,” Dinwiddie said. “They’re my boys, you’ll see me laughing and joking with them, especially (Cal’s Justin) Cobbs, but make no mistake, I plan to prove I’m the best one. That’s just how I see it.”
The attitude has festered for a long time. Festered as he watched his more heralded high school opponents bask in the limelight. Festered as he was spurned by his hometown schools. Festered as he was thought to be a project, lowly touted, ranked in the mid-20s of high school point guards his senior year.
That just couldn’t be.
“I always felt like I’m doing the same thing these other guys are doing or I’m doing it better, or at least I’m close, so why are they up here, and I’m looked at as not good at all?” Dinwiddie said. “It made me mad, it made me angry. That built the attitude I played with.”
Pac-12 opponents have seen it time and time again.
As a sophomore, Dinwiddie scored in double-figures in all but six games, and he finished the season with averages of 15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
But the Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High School product struggled from the field — shooting just 41.5 percent from the field last year, including a 1-for-8 performance in an NCAA tournament loss to Illinois — and he returned to college this year in part because NBA executives hope to see an improved shot.
Although, at least to Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, Dinwiddie’s offense is only a part of his package.
“He has that rare ability to control a game,” Romar said. “He’s big enough on the defensive end to rebound and get deflections and create havoc. Offensively, he can take it to the block, he can penetrate, he can hit the jumper.
“That’s an NBA player as far as I’m concerned.”
Dinwiddie has not just earned respect from conference coaches, but players as well.
The Buffaloes have won 24 and 21 games, respectively, in Dinwiddie’s two seasons.
With Andre Roberson and his 2013 Pac-12 Defensive player of the year award off to the NBA, Colorado will need to lock down its post.
But the return of Askia Booker and Josh Scott has Dinwiddie confident, although that’s not a surprise.
“If we didn’t honestly feel that way, how could we honestly compete with Arizona?” Dinwiddie said. “There would be no way. We go in there, believing we’re the best, and it helps put our best foot forward.”