Deciding Factor

Ryan Boatright

High school players typically pick their college based on one, or several, items such as academics, school reputation, or the campus, but for Ryan Boatright the deciding factor was both easy to pinpoint but hard to define.

"There's just something about Coach Huggins," Boatright said after making West Virginia his college choice. "I don't even know if I can define it or explain what it is. He believes in his players, and he says the right things. He's easy to talk to. I just know that he was the coach I wanted to play for."

Boatright didn't totally base his decision on the veteran coach. He noted that he immediately hit it off with Truck Bryant and the rest of the Mountaineer team, and he also built a strong relationship with assistant coach Larry Harrison, who spearheaded his recruitment.

"We just connected really early," he said of the lead Mountaineer assistant. "He was good to talk with. It was the same with the players on my visit. We just got together, and it felt right."

Boatright visited West Virginia on the weekend of the UNLV football game, and while he noted that the play of the game itself wasn't an influence on his decision, the chance to sample the atmosphere at a big event was another boost for WVU.

"I mean, I'm going to be playing basketball, so the football game itself wasn't big for me, but it did show me how the fans were and how they support the team. It let me see what the atmosphere was like there, and it was just different than the other places I visited. It was just more fun."

A apeedy point guard who gets up and down the court and distributes the ball well, both in the halfcourt and in transition, Boatright is a four-star prospect rated as the number 16 point guard in the country heading into his senior season. He's already shown an accomplished all-around game, averaging 26 points, five assists and three steals per game as a junior while earning first team all-state honors from the Chicago Tribune. He scores in a variety of manners, and excels at penetrating and creating shots off the dribble. Still, he has goals for improvement in his final season of prep play.

"I want to extend my shooting range out a little," he said of his goals. "I want to be a little more consistent shooting from out there. And I want to become a lockdown defender. I want to be able to play one-on-one on defense and shut a guy down."

If he is able to do that, Boatright will be an elite player in college, but he's no stranger to the attention and pressure that comes from being in the spotlight. After committing to USC as an eight-grader, he snared a good bit of national comment, but he didn't let that notoriety keep him from improving each year. He has continued to work on his floor game, and figures to be a strong competitor for playing time early in his career.

The decommitment from USC, which came when former coach Tim Floyd left the program, isn't a cause for concern that the same thing might happen again.

"Recruiting is over for me," Boatright said when asked about the possibility of more visits or a decision change. "I'm going to sign in November. The process has been good, but it's been a headache at times too. I'm glad it is over, and I am very happy with my decision."

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West Virginia has received two verbal commitments for its basketball class of 2001.

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