'Bigger' Boateng Visits Duke

Future Duke center Eric Boateng had a rough summer for the most part, but the Durham bound big man has continued to work and refine his game. Now he's putting up big numbers and has an eye on making a splash at Duke next year.

Eric Boateng's confidence is back, his body looks different and his game has gone to another level.

``He's playing phenomenally," St. Andrews (Del.) coach Robert Rue said. "He's been terrific."

The 6-10 Boateng, who has gained about 10 pounds of muscle since the summer, is up to about 235.

His team is struggling at 7-6, but not because of Boateng. The England native and Duke-bound big man is coming off a game against Sanford High in which he put up 28 points, 19 boards and 9 blocks.

``My season's going well, it's getting better," Boateng said. "We got off to a slow start both individually and as a team, but we've played better the last few games. Individually, I feel like I'm playing the best I've played in a while."

Admittedly, Boateng's confidence was shaken during an up-and-down summer in which he struggled at times. However, Rue pointed to a late-summer tournament as a turning point that his star regained his confidence.

``He hasn't blinked once during the season," Rue said. "He's worked his tail off and played at the highest level he's ever played at. He went into the season needing the process the game better and to get more repetition and he's starting to make beautiful, fluid decisions."

Rue said that Coach K came down to watch him earlier in the season and the only advice he had was for Boateng to run the floor harder.

Boateng is putting up 22 points per contest in his senior campaign and while Rue once thought Boateng was still a ways away from making an impact in the ACC, he's not so sure anymore.

``I've seen such a dramatic improvement that it changes my mind," Rue said. "It depends on the circumstances and whether Shelden (Williams) and Shavlik (Randolph) came back. I don't know how quickly it'll happen, but I think he'll be a very good player at Duke."

``I feel like I've improved in all areas this season," Boateng added. "My scoring's gone up, I'm passing the ball better and also doing a better job blocking shots and rebounding. A lot of it has to do with all the tapes I'm watching after the games."

One misperception of Boateng is that he's so nice off the court that he doesn't have a high competitive edge while on the court.

``He's a fierce competitor," Rue said. "He's a real battler and not afraid to mix it up."

Boateng took a visit recently for the Maryland loss.

``It was good to get a chance to see all the players and coaches," Boateng said. "The game was exciting. It felt good just to be there."

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