Leading up to the draft, Hoops Rumors will be talking with some of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s class. Today, the Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Q&A series continues with UConn guard Ryan Boatright, who is ranked No. 84 in this year’s class by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and No. 96 by Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
At 5’11” and 170 pounds, UConn’s Ryan Boatright packs a lot of punch for his small size. Over the course of his four years in college, Boatright made a name for himself as a tenacious pick-and-roll point guard on offense and a pesky perimeter defender on the other side of the floor. In 2014, Boatright and backcourt mate Shabazz Napier helped lead UConn to a national championship. While there was some talk of Boatright going pro early, he opted to stay in school for his senior season to show that he can lead a team all by himself. Boatright, a client of Aaron Goodwin, spoke with Hoops Rumors last week about the workout trail, his draft stock, and much more.
Zach Links: At the draft combine this year, you clocked in with an eye-popping 41-inch vertical leap. Did you get a lot of extra attention from scouts and team executives after that?
Ryan Boatright: I spoke with my agent and he told me a lot of people were impressed. The funny thing is though, I normally do a 44-inch vertical. So, that 41-inch jump was good, but it wasn’t my best.
Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
ZL: Did you think about doing it again?
RB: They gave me the opportunity to do it again but I didn’t take it. I think 41 is impressive enough and that day I was dealing with a bit of a groin injury, so I felt like I should leave it alone.
ZL: Has your agent told you about specific teams that are especially interested in you?
RB: He said that the Clippers, Nets, and Trail Blazers are really interested in me.
ZL: Do you have an idea of where you might get drafted?
RB: I don’t ask him for the details or whatever. I just go in there and focus on the workouts and do my best. I don’t ask him for the range I might go in because that can always change.
ZL: After winning the National Championship in 2014, did you give any thought to going pro?
RB: Yes, I was going to go pro right after we won. I knew my name was hot and I had a great tournament. However, after I spoke with everyone whose opinion I trusted, I felt like one more year would be good for me. The last day before the deadline, I decided to go back to school to show everyone that I could run the team and be a true point guard.
ZL: Are you glad that you stayed in school?
RB: Yeah, I’m glad I did that. A few wins and a few losses this year could have made my draft position a little bit different but I don’t have any regrets.
ZL: I’m sure that you enjoyed playing alongside Shabazz Napier, but did you also enjoy getting to take on more of a leadership role in your final year?
RB: I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never been a follower in my entire life and that role just came naturally to me. I shared it with Shabazz when he was here; we were co-captains. This year, though, it was just totally different. This year I had to lead a young and inexperienced team and that was exciting.
In your freshman year at UConn, you made headlines in the New York Times Op-Ed section
after the NCAA held you out for several games due to what they felt were improper benefits. In actuality, it sounds to me like you didn’t really do anything wrong. What was that experience like?
RB: It was extremely tough. It was one of the hardest situations or things that I went through in my life. But, it made me stronger as a person and as a player and made me more hungry and determined to succeed. To have something snatched away from you for no reason, when you did nothing wrong, it was devastating. I couldn’t play basketball and that was the whole reason I went to UConn. Still, I got through it and persevered and made the best of it.
ZL: This year, you shot 41.6% from three-point range, the best showing of your collegiate career. What led to that major improvement?
RB: Teams were just more scared of me getting into the paint and creating havoc for myself and others. They really contained me to keep me out of the paint. I knew that in order to be efficient on the floor, I had to improve my three-point shot off the catch and dribble. I just focused on practicing hard and knocking it down.
ZL: What would you say to critics who fear that you’re too small for the NBA?
RB: Everyone is going to have their opinion. I’ve been doubted my whole life. No one thought I’d go to UConn, let alone start and win a national championship. The same people I’m playing in college, those are the same people I’m going to be playing in the NBA. Even if they’re bigger and stronger, I’m going to get bigger and stronger. I’ve held my own my whole life. I came up in Chicago playing against pros. If a team takes a chance on me, I’m going to hold it down for the guys that are 6’0″ and under.
ZL: Why did you choose Aaron Goodwin to represent you?
RB: Part of it was family ties, but he’s just a good guy. I trust him. I don’t think he’d do anything to steal from me or harm me in any way. He takes his job seriously. I believe that he’s going to work hard for me. Some agencies, they only want the guy who is going in the lottery or top 20. I feel like Aaron believed in me as much as I believe in myself. That sealed the deal for me.