[Premium Article] Years of watching SEC basketball gave Michael Boler the confidence that he could play in the best conference in the nation. That same confidence made Boler push himself through rehab of a knee injury to be ready to come to Mississippi State. And confidence was the same reason that Boler came to MSU without a scholarship even with offers from other schools."> [Premium Article] Years of watching SEC basketball gave Michael Boler the confidence that he could play in the best conference in the nation. That same confidence made Boler push himself through rehab of a knee injury to be ready to come to Mississippi State. And confidence was the same reason that Boler came to MSU without a scholarship even with offers from other schools.">

Michael Boler: Setting his Sights

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/basketball/mboler120-155.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="155"> [Premium Article] Years of watching SEC basketball gave Michael Boler the confidence that he could play in the best conference in the nation. That same confidence made Boler push himself through rehab of a knee injury to be ready to come to Mississippi State. And confidence was the same reason that Boler came to MSU without a scholarship even with offers from other schools.

"I have always known that I could play in the SEC," Boler said. "It was just something that I wanted to prove to myself."

Boler sustained a knee injury during his senior year that kept him off the basketball court while it healed. But, when he was given the chance to come to MSU and earn a scholarship, nothing could stop him.

"I just really started working harder to get it well," Boler said about his knee injury. "I knew that I needed to be in good shape when I came up here, so I worked hard with my rehab to get my knee ready."

Despite being recruited by most of the smaller schools in Mississippi, the Air Force Academy and many Ivy League schools, Boler wanted to play at an SEC school. And when MSU coach Rick Stansbury invited him to walk-on at MSU and possibly earn a scholarship, Boler knew that he had his opportunity.

"I think the first thing I did was call my parents," Boler said of the day he learned he had earned a scholarship. "Coach Stansbury told me if I worked hard and there was a scholarship open, then I would have a chance at it."

One of the reasons Boler was able to earn a scholarship was his overall athletic ability. During high school at Pillow Academy, Boler led the team in scoring two consecutive years; won six mixed doubles tennis titles including an overall title; was a member of Pillow's North AAAA cross country championship team; ran the 800, long jumped and high jumped as a member of the track and field team and also played football. Following his senior season, Boler competed in the MPSA All-Star Game where he earned North AAA-AAAA MVP honors and won the slam-dunk competition.

"I had never really played tennis, and I just wanted to have something to do to fill my time," Boler said. "I didn't have too many people able to get the ball past me, and I could always hit it hard.

"I guess being athletic is something that has always helped me playing basketball. I am able to shoot, but I can take the ball to the rim too."

While Boler may have dominated the MPSA ranks for the past three seasons, he knows that he still has work to do to improve his game for SEC level.

"I know that I really need to add some weight," said the 6'5" 185 pound guard/forward. "I think I have gained about 10 pounds since I have been here. I really want to get to about 200. I think that is where I need to be.

"Playing in private school was a lot different than playing here. The top-notch talent is more spread out. But, I think I will be prepared because I would get triple-teamed in high school. That helped me to know how to get open, and shoot with pressure."

Now that Boler has achieved the first of his goals, he has his eyes set on a few more accomplishments.

"I am really trying to focus on my schoolwork right now, because it is a lot harder in college," Boler said. "I want to graduate in biology and someday go to medical school. But, I know that is a long way off.

"Right now I just want to go out every day and get better and help this team. There is a lot of talent here, and I just want to help make this a better team."


Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at sportswriterdawg@yahoo.com.

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