Thursday, August 3, 2017

Boya Adds To Bradley Frontline

Growing up in Cameroon, Aristide "Ari" Boya found the basketball culture to be rather disappointing. Just assembling a competitive full five on five game seemed like an arduous task at times.

At a well-built 7-foot-1 and possessing freak-esque athleticism, Boya feasted on subpar competition.

 Few of Boya's friends and teammates mirrored his innate passion, grittiness and competitive juices for the game.

As a high school freshman, Boya was nearly always the tallest player on the court.

The 'got it' factor was there, as Boya contained the strength, fleet of foot, and above the rim game which left many in awe.

There was one glaring issue. The lack of a respectable court on which Boya could fully utilize such attributes.

 Without a hardwood home in America, he would never be the menacing shot-blocker he now is.

And so Boya worried he would never find the right opportunity to pursue his craft, forever squandering talent.

 The fear of essentially wallowing under wistful thoughts of what could have been set in.

 Rather than stress or sulk, Boya found a different approach.

Studying Youtube film of Shaq, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Anthony Davis daily,  Boya soon plotted methods to get into the United States.

He began creating his own videos and sending them out to coaches all across the world's most competitive basketball country, hoping to land a scholarship at a high school or traditionally potent prep school which actively pursued international players.

He eventually discovered an opportunity for citizenship and a roster spot with the Indiana Elite in AAU.

 It was the first chapter in the fulfillment of the sinewy and agile Center's dreams.

At the start of Boya's first-ever varsity basketball experience in the United States, Boya earned starter's minutes at Center at The Conrad Academy (Orlando, FL). He scored his first two points during a win against Oldsmar Christian (FL) at the SIAA Veteran's Day Tournament at The Rock School in Gainesville,  Fla., dropping in an uncontested layup off a high lob pass.

Though a fourth and fifth option in a guard-centric offense at Conrad, Boya slowly became a consistent scorer.

He pieced together a memorable 16-point effort against Potter's House, hitting 7-of-8 field goals and displaying adept finishing ability at and above the rim.

Earlier during the year, Boya erupted with a 25-point, 17-rebound performance during a thorough 100-31 slaying of Agape Christian.

Playing on the prestigious Grind Session, Boya found himself guarding  Hillcrest Prep (Az.) Center DeAndre Ayton (the no.1 ranked player in the country, now at Arizona). He was frequently crunching home high-arching lob passes from Luguentz Dort, scoring around the rim with relative ease. The level of play that had been lacking so sorely back home was now maximized, on some of the grandest stages the American prep scene had to offer.

This past week, Boya committed to Bradley University.

Boya's relationship with assistant coach Drew Adams was a major component that solidified his decision. Adams' father, Mark Adams, operates a non-profit which helps student-athletes such as Boya fulfill their dreams of a college basketball scholarship.

Central Florida and Texas Tech had also expressed interest in the Class of 2019 forward, seeing him play but never offering a scholarship.

"It felt like the best place for me, there was no issues with it all," said Boya, who most recently played at Calusa Prep in Miami.

"I liked everything about the campus, the team, and how close-knit the environment was. I've wanted this for a long time for my life. Now that it is here, I am just going to keep working. It is good to finally have the decision made. I am very grateful for this situation."

Boya's ability to run the floor and finish in transition garnered notice during the fall. His methodical capabilities in being able to manipulate, influence, block, and alter the trajectory of shots in the paint named him to the Super 5 of the 2016 Dodge Florida Shootout in St. Petersburg.

From there, he worked at becoming more of an offensive force and polishing up facets such as his handwork and footwork.

Boya enters a roster that has plenty of international flavor, including a similar threat in 6-foot-10 forward Koch Bar of the South Sudan. Alongside the flashy, high-rising Corey Sanders (now at Rutgers), Bar won a state championship at West Oaks Academy in Orlando as a junior under Shaun Wiseman.

He later went with Wiseman to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville as a senior, entertaining a national schedule.

Wiseman, who additionally coached Bradley guard Jayden Hodgson at ACD, helped nurture Boya's development at the aforementioned Conrad Academy.

"It is a great to find the right decision, the best thing I can do is keep working harder," Boya said.

"My coaches have spoken with me about how much more of a work ethic you need to survive in college, because in high school some people can survive strictly off talent. In college, there has to be an around the clock commitment and having the decision made only motivates me to work harder these next couple of seasons."

Part of that hard work will involve expanding his overall skill-set.

Boya was strictly a post presence his first year at Conrad, supplying hustle points with dunks, putbacks, and point-blank buckets. He's opened up a dependable 16-20 footer. He's shooting 3-pointers for the first time in his life, developing a steady form and taking bigs away from the rim. Boya said the next step in his development is incorporating a bag of tricks with his post move, beating defenders with deceptive and crafty moves.

"Oh yeah, that's coming along right now," he said.

"Just wait."