As an undrafted free agent and someone who has to leave a lasting impression on the team's decision-makers, Ryan Boatright might be as excited for this moment as anyone.
Boatright's opportunity to shine on a professional stage is here and the Nets point guard is eager to attack Monday night's preseason opener against Turkey's Fenerbahce Ulker in the same way he maneuvers into the paint: fearlessly.
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"Just looking forward to it, man," Boatright said. "It will be a dream come true just to play in an NBA game and I just want to go out and play hard. Just show what I can do and I that belong on this team, and that I can play significant minutes and contribute to this team."
Boatright is part of the Nets' quartet of players at the position and one of the most intriguing. At 5-11, 175, he's undersized but has a scrappy mentality and loves navigating his way into the lane to challenge the giants.
Going through the rigors of his first NBA training camp is challenging enough, but it's doubly difficult under the old school watchful eye of Nets coach Lionel Hollins given his penchant for traditionally being harder on point guards. In a matter of days, Boatright has been asked to process a bevy of information and quickly decipher it appropriately.
"But I feel like I'm real prepared going to UConn and playing for (coach) Kevin Ollie," Boatright said. "I just work hard every day, and am keeping my mouth shut and am trying to learn from the vets and from the coaching staff."
They are drilling all the schemes into Boatright's head, making it clear to him that even small things - such as defensive rotations - can be monumentally important in the long run.
"The type of plays that in college you may be able to get away with are a little bit more difficult in the league," Jarrett Jack said. "Guys are a little it more longer, guys are a little but more athletic, the I.Q.s are a little bit higher. So, getting in the lane as a point guard and making plays, you really have to be sure of yourself, understanding where your outlets are when you're in certain stations and just taking your time most importantly."
Boatright measured out as the smallest in stature among of the 61 prospects at the NBA Draft combine in May, checking in at 5-10, 170. His wingspan was among the shortest. But he has two intangibles that can't truly be measured with statistics: heart and a burning desire. That led to the Nets giving him this chance.
"The thing is this league is tough and it's tough for everybody," Hollins said. "It doesn't matter how big you are or how small you are. It's a tough league to get into and you have to do your best every day, and make an impact and show you belong."
That's Boatrwight's hope.
"You've definitely got to take advantage of it," Boatright said. "I feel like it's a great situation for me individually and I feel like I can contribute to this team a lot with what I do and what I bring to the basketball ream. But like said I'm definitely looking advantage of it and I thank the Nets all the time for the opportunity. Twenty-nine teams passed on me, so I definitely have that chip on my shoulder and want to prove every body wrong."