Aurora Beacon News reporter Rick Armstrong has the story...
By RICK ARMSTRONG STAFF WRITER
Ryan Boatright cited family ties for helping him choose East High over West. Assurances he would play on the Tomcat varsity as a freshman also helped.
"I want to carry on the legacy of my family," said the Aurora 14-year-old who last week made a verbal commitment to coach Tim Floyd after receiving a scholarship offer from the University of Southern California.
Boatright, along with his parents, Mike McAllister and Tanesha Boatright, registered for classes Friday at East and paid his fees.
He was going to join the East varsity team in the 24-team field at the Oswego East Summer Shootout later in the day but those plans were put on hold by an administrator at the school who warned Boatright should probably have an athletic physical on file at the school before playing.
"I'm disappointed for him because he's ready to play," East coach Wendell Jeffries said of the 5-foot-10 point guard. "But it's best to have all the Is dotted and all the Ts crossed, especially when it's a case with this high of a profile."
Later in the afternoon, Boatright did have a physical and was expected to join the squad for it's 7 p.m. game with Danville.
Boatright, who lived with his mom on the west side of town when he was in junior high, will move in with his dad who lives on the east side. McAllister played on the Tomcat team that went to the state tournament in 1992. An uncle, Lamar Bedford, was on East's 1989 state team and his grandfather, Tom Boatright, played for Ernie Kivisto's state entries in 1969 and 70.
"One of the main reasons was, how could you get away from history?" said Tanesha Boatright of her son's choice, which was made Thursday, the family said.
"His parents went there, my sisters did, his dad's family went there and so did his grandma (Linda Boatright) and grandpa," said Tanesha Boatright.
"There are several East Hall of Famers from our family. Once he walked the halls, he knew he wanted to come here and wear No. 22 in honor of his grandpa (Tom)."
The family also considered Oswego East. Several of the youngster's Illinois Mixers 14-under AAU teammates will play there. Ryan Boatright's grandparents live in the district.
He will become the fifth player in East history to play on the varsity as a freshman, joining Thomas Wyatt, Aaron McGee, Tarius Dawkins and Trammel Weathersby, who will be a sophomore this fall.
Jeffries said East didn't integrate freshmen into the high school until 1986.
"He'll come here and play and show everybody his skills," said Weathersby. "We needed a point guard anyway. I played with him a couple of times in the summer when I was in middle school, he was on a higher level with us. He's good."
East played four games on Friday and has completed 18 of the 47 games it has scheduled this summer. Jeffries said Boatright should be able to join the team's summer camp workouts that begin on Monday.
"He's talented enough to be on the varsity squad," said Jeffries.
Boatright did attend some West High summer camp training sessions earlier this summer.
"It was good. I went to the camp the first two weeks," said Ryan Boatright, but he didn't know if he would be on coach Gordie Kerkman's varsity.
"I guess he thought I wasn't gonna play on varsity."
McAllister said he didn't discuss the situation with Kerkman.
"It was the first day of conditioning and we never got that far into it," said the dad. "(Kerkman) was real busy at the time."
Contacted later in the day, Kerkman told a reporter he hadn't heard about the teen's decision.
"I hope he's happy there," he said.
Kerkman has played freshmen (David Bacon, Trev Williams, Boatright's uncle Jaeh Thomas, among other) in his 30 years coaching the Blackhawks.
"I never told those guys up front they were gonna be on varsity," he said. "I'm smarter than that, to make guarantees like that."
Kerkman did say earlier in the week he considered having Boatright join his varsity for a weekend tournament two weeks ago but it conflicted with the youngster's AAU schedule.