June 21, 2012
By Phil Chardis
Assistant Director-Athletic Communications
STORRS, Conn. --- Even before he left for Chris Paul's CP3 Elite Guard Camp, Ryan Boatright knew that it wasn't going to be three days of sun and fun.
And he was just fine with that.
If three days of drills, workouts, and head-to-head competition against some of the top college guards in the country would help make Boatright a better player, UConn's 6-foot rising sophomore was all for it.
"I knew the top guards in the country would be there and then I saw the list of names, so I expected it to be tough, but Kemba (Walker) was up here the week before I was going, and he went when he was in college," Boatright said. "Kemba told me that this camp is actually work --- you have to put in hard work, drills and workouts. Some camps you go to, you can go through the motions and just get the gear, but it wasn't like that at the CP3 Camp."
Situated in Winston-Salem, N.C., the CP3 Camp is under the direction of Paul, a former All-American guard at Wake Forest and an NBA All-Star, now with the Los Angeles Clippers. Boatright was one of just 20 players in the country invited to attend over the second weekend in June.
"I was just doing my normal workout and Coach (Kevin) Ollie came up and told me I had been invited to the Chris Paul Camp," Boatright said. "I didn't ask any questions, I was just excited I got invited. I had heard about the camp through other players that I know."
The prestigious list of invitees included players like Louisville's Peyton Siva, Syracuse's Brandon Triche, CJ McCollum of Lehigh, Phil Pressey of Missouri, Ray McCallum of Detroit, Trey Burke of Michigan, Duke's Seth Curry, and Aaron Craft of Ohio State.
"I knew most of the guys there by reputation, but I didn't know them like I do now," Boatright said. "Like I knew like Peyton Siva from playing in the Big East, but I didn't really know him. We all clicked, everybody got along. There was no animosity at all, just kids representing their schools ... a lot of fun."
Plus, a lot of work.
"Every day, we'd wake up, get some breakfast, be in the gym by 9:30, work for two hours," Boatright side. "Then we ate lunch, went back to the hotel for maybe an hour and a half, then right back at it for two more hours. Then at night, we did stuff like go bowling, or watch the games on TV.
"We did a lot of drills and because it was all guards, we did a lot of one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, with no dribbles, or limited dribbles, stuff like that. And Chris competed in every single workout, every single drill. The knowledge, the level of competition, and the intensity that Chris and the coaches brought was unbelievable."
Boatright, who averaged 10.4 points, 4.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and was a solid defender while appearing in 25 games for the Huskies last season, had seen many of the drills before.
"Working with KO (Ollie), I had seen a lot of the stuff already, but at UConn, we switch it up all the time," Boatright said. "At camp, a lot of the dribbling drills, we did for 45 minutes at a time. You continuously do that while you're getting fatigued, it gets really hard. The first day, everybody was losing the ball, dribbling off their foot and stuff, then by the time the last day came, everybody had it down."
Ollie, a 13-year NBA veteran before joining Coach Jim Calhoun's staff two years ago, knows how beneficial Boatright's stay at the Elite Camp can be for the young guard as well as for the Huskies.
"It can benefit Ryan in a number of ways," Ollie said. "Just being around his peers, displaying his talents in a great environment. Plus, being around Chris Paul, who is one of the best point guards in the NBA and getting some of his tips on how to become a great point guard because Chris has done it at all levels --- a great point guard at Wake Forest, then being a great rookie, then his progression to becoming one of the top point guards in the league for a while now.
"It can be a great benefit if Ryan takes it the right way --- when Chris tells you something, you listen, and even when he's talking to other guys, he's talking to you. Hopefully, Ryan learned a lot at the camp and also learned what he needs to do to progress and be the best player he can possibly be."
That's precisely the plan, according to the UConn guard from Aurora, Ill.
"If you go hard in those drills, go hard every single time you're in the gym, when you leave you're going to feel like you're a better player than you were," Boatright said.
So, by the time the camp was over, who was the best out of all those talented guards, he was asked. Boatright broke out in a wide grin.
"Me," he said with a laugh, "of course."