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National title a triumph for Aurora’s Ryan Boatright

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Updated: April 8, 2014 3:54PM



ARLINGTON, Texas — Ryan Boatright decommitted twice from other schools before signing a letter of intent to go to Connecticut. His mom was alleged to have accepted improper benefits.

Last season, he played on a team that was ineligible for the postseason and this year he dealt with the death of his cousin who he refers to as a brother.

But despite that hardship, Boatright, an Aurora native, found himself atop the podium with his Huskies teammates after UConn beat Kentucky 60-54.

Now the question that remains is, what’s next for the junior guard, who scored 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting?

He has been outspoken about his pro aspirations.

“I’m going to enjoy this as much as I can,” Boatright said. “I’m not thinking about my future. I’m just going to enjoy the present. I’m going to celebrate with my team and my family. I’m just blessed to be in this situation and it’s an honor to be a national champion and play for this university. My future? I’ll worry about that later.”

Boatright had another obstacles to overcome Monday.

With nine minutes to go, Boatright sprained his ankle and went back to the huddle visibly in pain. But he immediately re-entered the game.

“My ankle? It was hurting,” Boatright said. “But we worked too hard and we put in too much work. I wouldn’t let a little ankle sprain with nine minutes to go keep me out of the national championship and from fighting with my brothers.”

One game won’t do much to any player’s draft stock, even on a stage such as this. Boatright is considered a second-round pick. But the death of his cousin and desire to move his family makes the decision difficult.

The 6-0 Boatright had his I-told-you-so moment when he effectively guarded the much-bigger Kentucky backcourt. All three of its guards are listed at 6-6.

The Wildcats attempted, unsuccessfully, to game plan around Boatright’s defense. Kentucky coach John Calipari said that Boatright’s defense was the reason an athletic Wildcats team was stymied offensively.

Calipari said he wasn’t too familiar with UConn and had little time — only one day — to prepare. What stood out was Boatright’s defense.

“When he got into the other point guard like he did against Florida and he did against us, it’s a big advantage,” Calipari said. “We were going to try to do some things and we just kind of got away from it. They were not going to let us take this game from them.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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