By Will Connolly
Name: Ryan Boatright - #11
Weight: 175 lbs.
Hometown: Aurora, IL
Enjoying his best season yet with the Connecticut Huskies, senior guard Ryan Boatright looks to take his talents to the next level. After an early first round exit in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last week, Boatright can only look back on an excellent career and hope that he did enough to garner a high first round draft pick. But after leading his team in scoring (17.4 points per game), assists (3.8 per game) and steals (1.4 per game) this past season, he's surely solidified himself as a top draft prospect in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Boatright first gained notoriety as a star point guard at East Aurora High School in Aurora, Illinois where he averaged 31.2 points in his senior season; garnering Illinois Co-Mr. Basketball honors along with Chasson Randle. His scoring ability was visible throughout his high school career as he once dropped 63 points in single game. He was originally committed to West Virginia, but de-committed after they signed another guard; instead deciding to take his talents to Storrs, Connecticut.
In his first two seasons with the Huskies, Boatright continued his rise to superstardom. He averaged 10.4 points in his freshman season, followed by a 15.4 points per game average in his sophomore season. His junior season wasn't as successful from an individual standpoint, as Boatright's numbers dropped to 12.1 points per game, but his team's success overshadowed his own, as they danced their way to a second national championship in three years time.
In his senior year with the Huskies, Boatright took over the reigns as leader. With senior guard and 2013-14 leading scorer Shabazz Napier heading to the NBA, it was time for Ryan to step up in his shoes and carry the team to victory. And in the 2014-15 season, he did just that; scoring in double-digits in all but five games on the season, with some of his best games coming against Top 25-ranked opponents. Against then-No. 7-ranked Texas, Boatright recorded a statline of 24 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. He then put up 22 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists against the 2nd ranked Blue Devils just a few weeks later. He finalized his most successful collegiate season with a 23 point, five assist, three rebound, one steal-performance against the 25th ranked Mustangs of SMU. UCONN only went 1-3 against ranked opponents on the season, but it wasn't because of Boatright's lack of effort.
Truthfully, Connecticut's transition to the American Athletic Conference hurt the team immensely. As they traded in a much more challenging in-conference schedule for a much easier one. His Huskies also struggled on the road, where seven of their 14 losses took place. But it seemed as though Boatright and his team had kind of given up on the season after having learned that they wouldn't be headed to the Big Dance. And with three national championships in the past 11 seasons, including four Final Four appearances; this is a program that expects nothing less than the best.
Having been a part of the national championship squad of last season and garnering 2014 NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team honors, Boatright must feel that he's accomplished quite a bit during his tenure at Connecticut. Now its time to take his talents to the NBA, where he might just join the ranks of former teammate, Shabazz Napier, down in sunny South Beach with the Miami Heat.
for more features.