By Rick Armstrong
The kid has always had a flair for the dramatic on the basketball court.
Anyone who saw him score 45 points to lead his East Aurora basketball team to a regional championship upset of Neuqua Valley in overtime last March knows that about Ryan Boatright.
Apparently those talents aren't limited to athletics, as 31 members of his family and this Beacon-News reporter found out Sunday evening.
We were invited by his mother Tanesha to their home on Watson Street on Aurora's east side for dinner and "the decision." She and Ryan had returned from an official visit to Providence College in Rhode Island earlier that afternoon.
He would be deciding between a scholarship offer to play for the Friars and West Virginia, where they had visited the previous week.
On hand were his great grandmother, 80-year-old Loraine Bedford; grandparents Tom and Linda Boatright as well as four aunts, Katrina Boatright-Smith, Lakeya Poston, Tenille Boatright and Tominque Boatright along with a bunch of cousins.
He had everyone gather in the living room then entered wearing a Miami Univeristy hat and black-and-white loosefitting hoody. Everyone knew the hat was a ruse. Even though the Hurricanes had long been in the mix recruiting him, they had cooled after receiving a verbal commitment from another high-profile point guard the previous week.
Declaring, "You know I gotta score, I've gotta have the ball," Boatright unzipped the sweatshirt to reveal a black Providence T-shirt with his name on the back.
Tom Boatright, who earlier in the week had told me he was hoping his grandson would choose West Virginia because he thought he'd have "more structure" in Huggins' program, said nothing and looked dumbfounded.
Grandma Linda finally uttered, "Is this a joke?"
The youngster answered: "Providence gonna give me the ball and I've gotta do what I've gotta do."
Then, reaching down to pull the T-shirt up over his head to reveal a yellow shirt underneath, he said, "But at the same time, I like to win, so ... it's gonna be West Virginia."
[[[Read Rick Armstrong's breaking-news story about Boatright's decision here.]]]
The show was mainly for his Aunt Lakeya, he would say later.
"She thinks she knows everything," Ryan said. "Soon as I got back from the visit she said, 'I know where you're going.' She thought she knew, so I had to trick 'em and put the black shirt on.
"I liked (West Virginia) a lot (when visiting). It was the first time I've been to a college football game and the experience was great. Everybody in Morgantown had something with the flying WV on it.
"But I told myself I was gonna check out Providence, too. Neither place has a pro team so the basketball is a pretty big deal at both. Providence is a great school and showed me a great time, but I have that gut feeling (about West Virginia)."
His mom said it was a difficult choice.
"I was in tears about four or five times at Providence," Tanesha Boatright said. "This was incredible. They had signs up that said, 'We want Boatright.' They really made Ryan feel special."