Ryan Boatright wore his UConn jersey with pride for four years, playing hard every time he took the floor -- with the scars to prove it.
On Thursday night, he'll put that jersey on one last time.
Boatright will compete in a 3-point shooting contest, as part of Final Four week's festivities. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. on Thursday from Butler University in Indianapolis.
"He was debating on if he should do this," Boatright's mom, Tanesha, said by phone on Tuesday night. "Then he was like, 'This is my last time putting on my Husky jersey. I've gotta try to represent one more time.'"
Boatright, of course, was in street clothes for UConn's season-ending loss to Arizona State in the NIT a couple of weeks ago. He had hurt his shoulder in the Huskies' AAC championship game loss to SMU a few days before.
He's still rehabbing the shoulder, and while he wasn't prepared to play in the college all-star game this week in Indianapolis, his shoulder is good enough to shoot.
"If somebody would've asked me a year ago, I would've said he'd be in the dunk contest," Tanesha said with a laugh.
Tanesha, her parents and Ryan's brothers and sisters are planning to make the drive down from Aurora, Illinois to watch Ryan compete. (And if you're wondering how Ryan is getting there despite Gov. Malloy's travel ban to Indiana, his flight and expenses are paid for by Intersport, the event's sponsor, and not with state funds).
"He gets to put on that Husky jersey one more time," she said. "He's walking away at peace, and enjoying it more than having to watch it from the sideline. I told him, 'I know you always compete to win, but as a mom, I'll just love to see you compete with a smile.'"
After that, Ryan Boatright, who hasn't hired an agent yet, will focus on finishing up his classwork and preparing for his dream of the NBA. It'll be a tough road, and both he and his mother know it. The other night, Tanesha was on the phone with Shabazz Napier's mom, Carmen Velasquez, when Carmen put Shabazz on the phone.
"It's a process," Napier said of the NBA draft workout circuit. "People don't really understand until they get into it."
At least the Boatrights have a great "family" to go to for advice.
"I'm just thankful to have all the family -- Andre Drummond's mom, Kemba's mom Angela, Carmen, we're all like sisters -- for real," Tanesha said.
Labels: Andre Drummond, Carmen Velasquez, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Tanesha Boatright