At the time, Herb Sendek was just settling in as the new head coach of the Sun Devil men's basketball team but prior to coming to Tempe, Sendek had coached for ten seasons at North Carolina State. During his time at Durham Sendek had recruited Boateng and once it was announced that he was transferring Sendek started to pursue the center.
Largely in part to Boateng, the 2007-08 campaign was greeted with plenty of enthusiasm and excitement, but at the season's start things looked to be a bust. The center struggled mightily and ultimately got benched. However the team, and Boateng, picked up the pace as time went by and improved beyond anyone's expectations.
Now heading into the 2008-09 season Boateng cannot wait to take the court and continue his momentum from the later part of last season.
"Oh yeah, we're definitely excited," stated Boateng. "This is what we have been working for all summer and offseason so we're definitely excited to start. We're looking to build collectively and individually on our performances."
Starting strong this year will be paramount for a Sun Devil squad that got burned for its non-conference performance last year. After being left out of the NCAA tournament and trying desperately to find answers, the team was offered up only one; perform better against non-conference opponents.
An unfamiliar element that the Sun Devils are dealing with this season is being ranked in preseason polls. Many are picking them to finish near the top of the Pac-10 and there is a definite sense of pressure that comes with those accolades. Nonetheless, Boateng has remained blasé in light of those expectations.
"What we can do is just start by giving it our all tomorrow (the start of official team practices)," commented Boateng. "We have our first practice tomorrow and we just have to come prepared and come ready. We have to stay consistent throughout the year. That's the way we're going to be successful."
Boateng's improvement can at least partially be attributed to a relentless work ethic, which head coach Herb Sendek praised at his press conference today.
"Eric has had a terrific off season," said Sendek. "Believe it or not his body fat percentage now is about eight percent. He was in the neighborhood of eighteen percent. He literally has carved out a new body."
"Last year he regained experience after a two year break. He played his best basketball at the end of the year down the home stretch. With the kind of off season he's had I expect him to pick up where he left off and have a terrific junior year for us."
I When discussing his offseason workout regimen, the junior continued to keep his focus more centered on the team.
"I just stayed consistent this off-season," said Boateng. "I was working out and got my mind set back. The season is going to come back quick so I tried my hardest to utilize every day in the offseason to get better and to do what was best for the team."
Similar to college football, home court advantage in college basketball is of the utmost importance. Last year Sun Devil fans stepped their game up as they watched their team elevate their performance to a new level. The additional support did not go unnoticed by the players, although the fan's adoration of Boateng may have slipped by the colossal center.
"I didn't even know (that I was a fan favorite)," claimed Boateng. "It's great. We have an awesome crowd. They did an awesome job last year and they have been behind us since I have been here. I'm excited for this year. I'm looking forward to see what the crowd can bring this year."