TOC: Eric Boateng Spotlight

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – As the final buzzer sounder on the Delaware Sharpshooters' come-from-behind win on Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center, the media horde quickly surrounded Eric Boateng. But this would not be a typical postgame interview.<br> <b><center><a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/263210.html>Photo Gallery</a></center></b>

The first question from a local newspaper writer asked the 6-10 center for a general update on his recruitment.

"I don't want to talk about it," Boateng replied in a thick British accent. "Right now I'm just trying to form a relationship with all the coaches who are trying to recruit me. I don't want to say anything at this moment. All I'm going to say is that the coaches I'm talking to … I'm going to go through them."

Another reporter asked for contact info for his high school coach.

"If you ask my coach he's going to just tell you the same thing that I am," Boateng said.

Yet another made a further attempt.

"I'm definitely going to fill you in sooner or later – just not now," Boateng said.

One would think that such answers – or a lack thereof – would frustrate and upset a group of reporters trying to get enough info to meet their deadline for tomorrow's paper. But instead the reporters were smiling. Why? Because Boateng's genuine, affable personality and wide, innocent grin were infectious.

The postgame interview eventually got on track discussing Boateng's skills, and he admitted that he has significant room for improvement. Which prompted the question – "What are the weaknesses you're trying to eliminate?" But even that took an unexpected turn.

"Court awareness, decision-making … what do you think? I want to know …" Boateng asked back – and he meant it.

"Strength," one reporter responded.

"Ok, strength, explosiveness," Boateng replied. "What kind of strength?"

The interview had quickly turned into a mere conversation led by an inquisitive teenager.

Boateng posted 15 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks for the game [shot chart inset], showcasing some undeveloped skills – but a tremendous upside.

With a future at the center position, Boateng surprisingly opted to face the basket rather than post up. The form on his jumpshot looked nice, but only one of the ten jump shots found the bottom of the net. However, he did turn some heads with a couple of impressive moves to the basket.

"I'm trying to explore," he responded to a question about his shot selection. "I'm trying to do new things every time I play. I'll talk to my coach and if he thinks I'm taking bad shots I'll try and change it -- just anything to make me a better player."

His strengths are quite apparent. A long 6-10 frame, with pogo-stick leaping ability, makes him a force as a shotblocker and with added strength he'll be able to dominate the boards as well. Right now he's at 227 pounds, and will need to do a better job of holding his own in the paint – as he was outmuscled on a number of occasions – but he's well aware of that weakness.

"I get pushed around too much," he said. "That's something I've got to change."

Back on the topic of his recruitment, while he wasn't willing to disclose any details, he did say his list stands at eight schools. Inside word is that those eight likely include Duke (he reportedly is scheduled to attend their team camp next month), UCLA, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Villanova (a sleeper pick by some insiders to ultimately end up with his commitment). Michigan and UCLA have already received official visits, while he's seen most of the other schools on unofficial visits. The Tar Heels are reportedly one of the few teams on the list who have yet to offer.

It's important to note that while most players cite academics (and perhaps not enough mean it), it will assuredly be a leading factor in his decision, as he chose to attend St. Andrews School in Middletown, Del. – a private school renowned for being academically rigorous.

"It's a great school - it's one of the best. I love it," Boateng said proudly. "It's a pretty hard academic school and a lot of people would [wonder] why I would want to go to that school. The education is top notch."

And even though as of today he appears a very unlikely candidate for skipping college, the question was posed by a reporter.

"I'm not thinking about [the NBA]," Boateng said. "I'm just trying to get better every day. That's not in my mind. I'm just trying to learn."

From Clint's notebook –

The potential is scary. The agility at his size is astounding. He just moves so quick from block to block. He'll rack up some blocks with his quickness. Armed with extraordinarily long arms, track speed and a decent looking jump shot -- his ceiling as a basketball player is very high. At this point, he's a good player but an excellent prospect. I don't think he's much of a scorer and he may never be. But his future is so bright.

Liked the way that he turned to face the basket down low. His post moves certainly need work but he's further along than I expected.

Defensively, he plays hard. Don't think I've seen feet that quick on a 6-10 kid in some time.


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