The Boat Show
Ryan Boatright may be overlooked nationally, but his name and his game deserves your attention.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
During the week of the McDonald’s All-American game here in Chicago, the name that kept coming out of everyone’s mouth when it came to guys who should’ve been selected to compete in the event was East Aurora’s Ryan Boatright.
Considering the way his senior season played out, it was hard to argue that he shouldn’t have been playing in the game, especially since he is without question one of the best players in the state and the event was in his backyard.
While his haters have called him “ShowBoat,” there were plenty of people waiting in long lines to witness what was known as the “Boat Show” this season. But don’t take my word for it, you be the judge. Here’s a quick glimpse of Boatright’s senior year:
He averaged 31.2 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals per game, leading his team to a 24-6 record and winning their conference. His team would lose to the eventual runner-ups in the state playoffs, but not before knocking off the No. 1 team in the state, Benet Academy, who had two players signed to play at Big Ten schools next year (David Sobolewski – Northwestern and Frank Kaminsky – Wisconsin) and who finished as state runner-ups last season. Benet came into the game undefeated, but Boatright’s 29 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists ended their season.
He led the state in scoring and put up 40 or more points seven times including a 55 point, 10 rebound, 10 steal triple-double in one game and eventually topped that by dropping 63 points – a school record – in another, going 20-26 from the field, 7-12 from the three-point line and 16-16 from the free-throw line to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
He was the only unanimous selection for Division 4A’s All-State team and was a top five finalist for Mr. Basketball in the State of Illinois in which he was eventually named a Co-Mr. Basketball winner with Chasson Randle from Rock Island (committed to Stanford), the first time that’s ever happened in the state. He was also named ESPNChicago.com’s Player of the Year and he’ll play his college ball at UConn next year.
Oh, and did I mention that he accomplished all of this while checking in at just 5-11, 165 pounds?
All things considered, for a kid to have all of that on his resume in his senior season, one would think that he would’ve been somebody’s All-American. But Boatright understands the politics of basketball and not being recognized for his accomplishments didn’t really come as a surprise.
“I was messed up about [not being named a McDonald’s All-American], especially considering I was the leading candidate for Mr. Basketball in the state, plus with the game being in Chicago. But I wasn’t really expecting to get in the game just because of the whole Nike and adidas AAU thing. I knew that was big.”
Boatright played for Derrick Rose’s older brother, Reggie, on the AAU circuit for the D-Rose All-Stars, an adidas sponsored program. An overwhelming majority of the participants in the McDonald’s game all played in the EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League), a summer AAU circuit sponsored by Nike. Boatright understood the national exposure that comes from playing in those events.
“The biggest tournament I played in [last summer] was [the adidas Super 64] in Las Vegas. We lost in the Elite 8 by a buzzer beater and the team that beat us went on to win it. So that was the only tournament I played in to get some exposure and then I went to adidas Nations. So [not being selected] could be from a lack of exposure, but everybody knew my name and even if they didn’t, if they went by stats, they know I should’ve been in the McDonald’s game.”
Aside from not being a McDonald’s – or Jordan Brand – All-American, when the 55th Parade All-America team was released this week, of the 40 players selected, Boatright’s name was nowhere to be found. There were players picked who in some cases were ranked lower than him nationally (both overall and by position), and others who aren’t even signed on to play at a big time college program like “Boat” will be doing next year at UConn.
“That’s crazy,” says Boatright of the Parade snub. “I would’ve expected to at least make one of the all-American teams. I could see not putting me on the first team, but all four? Don’t get me wrong, all of those guys are good players, but I’m always going to consider myself better – I’m never going to say somebody is better than me. But that’s just crazy how that went.”
Regardless of the lack of love nationally, Boatright has gotten plenty of love here at home, especially from Derrick and Reggie Rose who both serve as mentors and are no more than just a phone call away, always at the ready to give words of advice and encouragement to the flashy and explosive young point guard.
“He can play, man,” said Derrick Rose. “Always attacking, passing the ball, whatever you need him to do he’s willing to do it.”
Of his relationship with the Rose brothers, Boatright describes it this way.
“They just always tell me to stay hungry and humble. Derrick’s been through so much and Reggie is real experienced to, so whenever I’m in doubt or have any questions, I can call them about anything.”
“I’ve got to put on some weight in the summer, but it’s going to be fun. Me and Kemba [Walker] play exactly alike. It’s an up-and-down system, and Coach Calhoun is gonna let you rock. Of course you have to stay within the system, but the system is so open and I’m little so I need an up-and-down system. So that’s why I chose UConn, plus they’ve put over 40 pros in the League.”
He adds, “That’s why I think the Big East is the best conference in the country. You don’t get no breaks. You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game night in and night out and if I’m fortunate enough to get to the NBA, that’s what you’re going to have to do anyway. It’s so many great point guards in the League, you’re going to play somebody the next night like Derrick [Rose], Chris Paul, Deron Williams, you’ve always got to be ready.”
So if you haven’t seen Ryan Boatright play, the first time you do will be a treat for your eyes.
He has the speed and quickness of Allen Iverson combined with the explosiveness of Derrick Rose, both players whom he cites as his idols. He also has a handle and a crossover reminiscent of Tim Hardaway who he patterns part of his game after as well. He’s an excellent scorer who can shoot both the mid-range and the 3-ball and he’s a good passer who can set up his teammates for easy scores.
In other words, he’s literally unguardable. But you can see all of this for yourself.
You can catch Ryan Boatright this weekend at the All-American Championship game in Houston. The games will be aired live, Sunday April 3rd on ESPN3.com at 2PM and 3:45PM, CST. They will then be re-aired on ESPNU at 8PM and 9:30PM CST on the same day.