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UConn Men's Basketball Roster Preview: Ryan Boatright - Heir to the Throne

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Can Ryan Boatright live up to the position he's in?

Jamie Squire

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

An upperclassmen point guard, the undisputed leader of the University of Connecticut, surrounded by a young, talented team with National Championship expectations.

No, I'm not talking about Kemba Walker.

No, no, I'm not describing Shabazz Napier.

This year, that epitaph applies to Ryan Boatright.

Time is a flat circle.

In 2011, Walker led the Huskies to a National Championship. A team of seven freshmen, including Napier, was full of young pups. Walker was Superman that year on a team that went undefeated in tournament play. Walker was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four and got his number and name raised to the Huskies of Honor at Gampel Pavilion.

In 2014, it was Shabazz Napier's turn. He, too, led the Huskies to a National Championship, highlighted by a year's worth of big shots, Player of the Year awards and a retired number.

UConn's history has been written by dominant guards. From the days of Kevin Ollie and Ray Allen, to Khalid El-Amin to Ben Gordon to Walker and Napier, the Huskies have been historically dependent on the backcourt.

This season is no different.

Ryan Boatright surely could have declared for the NBA Draft this spring, he probably would've been selected, too. His performance in the NCAA Tournament helped bring a title home. He was a defensive bulldog, hounding Florida's Scotty Wilbekin for 40 minutes of pure hell, and he helped take out the Harrison twins of Kentucky. He accumulated 11 steals in the tournament, averaging 3.7 per game.

"It was a hard decision, but I'm proud of my decision to come back and get my degree. I'm excited to raise my stock, play with my brothers and go back-to-back," Boatright said at AAC Media Day.

Boatright is listed at 6-foot-2, but that's a stretch. He's a small, waterbug, lightning-fast point guard. He jumps higher than any player I've seen on his jump shot. He's shown the ability to be a first option or play off the ball. He's a clever passer, able to get his teammates the ball in spots where they can do damage.

Most importantly, he understands how to lead. All off-season, Boatright has spoken about his new role as a team leader.

"I just try to lead by example and do the right things on and off the floor," Boatright said.

Boatright averaged 18.0 ppg, 3.5 apg, and 3.0 rpg in the exhibition season.

"He brings leadership, veteran experience and all the intangible things you want from a player. He's playing exactly how we want him to play," coach Kevin Ollie said.

Boatright has undergone a massive transformation while here at UConn. He's had ups and downs, from being suspended for nine games as a freshmen to being named a captain his senior year.

"He's self-correcting himself now. He steps up and takes ownership when he makes mistakes. He's saying "my bad, let's change it." I think that's a great thing for a leader. That's the biggest step in his maturity," Ollie said.

Boatright is not concerned about his role in the UConn line of succession. He doesn't care about being Kemba or Shabazz.

"I'm not worried about any of that. I just want to go out and get better every day. The ultimate goal is another National Championship."

The funny thing is, if he lives up to his words, Boatright will be another Husky legend, with a banner forever hanging on the walls of Gampel.