College Basketball: Stay at UConn or go pro? Ryan Boatright facing ‘a big decision’
BY RICK ARMSTRONG firstname.lastname@example.org April 20, 2014 12:48PM
Ryan Boatright holds up a poster presented to him by the East Aurora School District during a celebration in his honor at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday. | Sean King / For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 22, 2014 12:24PM
Playing point guard for NCAA men’s basketball champion Connecticut requires Ryan Boatright to make snap decisions at both ends of the floor during a game.
They’ve become second nature for the small but lightning quick junior from East Aurora. His next one, though, won’t be so easy.
Will he stay in Storrs for his senior year or will he go pro?
“I really don’t know yet,” Boatright said Saturday at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora where Mayor Tom Weisner presented him a key to the city and hundreds of fans cheered him at a rousing homecoming celebration.
“I’ve gotta talk to my mother and my family tomorrow. It’s a big decision. I just want to make the right one. I’ve got ‘til the 27th (of April to declare for the NBA draft). That’s the last day. That’s another reason I came home, to talk to my family about it.”
Ahhh, to have been a fly on the wall at Easter dinner.
Playing in “the league” has been a blip on Boatright’s personal radar ever since grade school when he shadowed the workouts his Grandpa Tom Boatright would hold with his Auntie Tominque — mom Tanesha’s youngest sister — during her high school playing days.
“I always wanted to shoot, but he wouldn’t let me,” Ryan said. “He’d tell me to dribble the ball down to the corner and come back while he kept working with her. I’d go as fast as I could and he’d tell me to do it again, this time with my left hand.
“He made me the player I am today. But he’d never let me shoot!”
That, obviously, came later for the eventual East High career scoring leader.
Boatright and fellow junior DeAndre Daniels last week had meetings with UConn coach Kevin Ollie to discuss their futures.
“I’m just going to give them information that I’ve received from (NBA) general managers, and then they’re going to have to make their own decisions,” Ollie told the New Haven Register. “I don’t want to make any decisions for them, I want them to be committed if they’re gonna come back.”
The 6-foot Boatright said while Ollie was true to his word, “I just think he wants me to come back to school. That’s obvious.”
Though small in stature, Boatright impressed during the Huskie’s successful tourney run, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
“At my size, at the next level you’ve got to do other things besides score the basketball,” he said. “You’ve got to impact the game in other ways.”
Is he a blip on NBA radars?
“You hear a lot of stuff, but you don’t really know until you get there and get through it,” Boatright said. “I’ve heard anywhere from late first round all the way to not drafted.”
Could he see himself as “the man” next year for the Huskies like Shabazz Napier, his senior backcourt running mate was this year?
“It means you take on a bigger leadership role,” he said. “You’ve got to step your game up. You gotta get better.”
While he might raise his draft stock by improving his individual stats and “try to be a more knockdown shooter from the perimeter,” Boatright understands there’s risk.
“Going back to school, I wouldn’t call it a gamble, but you can always get hurt,” he said.
“It’s a big decision. A huge decision.”