Shabazz Napier wasn’t the only guard who helped lead UConn to the national championship Monday night over Kentucky.
Napier got plenty of help from junior Ryan Boatright, who has played in Napier’s shaddow for most of the year but been a key piece in the Huskies’ run.
1. He Played a Great Game Monday Night
Boatright led UConn in scoring in the first half and was a key reason the Huskies maintained the lead early in the second half when Napier was on the bench for an extended stretch.
He also hit a jump shot at the shot clock buzzer with just more than 4 minutes left that stretched UConn’s lead from 4 to 6 at 56-50, helping fend off a Wildcats run.
2. He Initially Committed to West Virginia
Boatright was always on the radar of former UConn coach Jim Calhoun. But for a time, it appeared he would be playing against the Huskies rather than for them in the old Big East conference.
Boatright initially committed to play at West Virginia, but later de-committed and signed a letter of intent to play at UConn when the Huskies had a scholarship to offer.
As the Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony reported at the time:
One day after Boatright committed to West Virginia, coach Bob Huggins secured a commitment from another point guard — Jabarie Hinds of Mount Vernon, N.Y. Hinds was also considering UConn, and while his picking West Virginia was frustrating for the Huskies, his landing in Morgantown has re-opened a door for the Huskies with Boatright.
3. His Eligibility Was in Question His Freshman Year
When Boatright was a freshman, in 2011-12, UConn held him out of action for two stretches — once at the beginning of the season and once mid-way through — while the NCAA investigated allegations that Boatright received improper benefits that, according to multiple reports, including a plane ticket purchased by Reggie Rose, Boatright’s AAU coach and the brother of Chicago Bulls star Derek Rose.
The NCAA ultimately cleared Boatright of any wrongdoing.
4. He’s a Potential NBA Draft Pick
Boatright’s potential as an NBA player is established enough that it’s not out of the question he could skip his senior year and go pro. But the consensus among scouts is that he’d be better off returning for a fourth year in Storrs and enhancing his draft prospects.
A scout had the following to say about Boatright to the New Haven Register’s David Borges earlier this year:
“He should stay in and have the capability of having a great year next year. He could be one of the dominant players in that league and would eliminate any questions.”
5. Tanesha Boatright is a UConn Superfan
Boatright’s mom, Tanesha, is Ryan’s biggest fans and a constant presence at UConn games.
During UConn’s NCAA tournament run, she’s been on TV seemingly all the time, wearing her son’s No. 11 jersey.
Pretty cool seeing Tanesha Boatright yelling, "I love you, son" over and over at Ryan.
— Ed Daigneault (@EdDaigneault) April 8, 2014