Ryan Boatright Will Return to UConn for Senior Season

Tim KeeneyContributor IApril 25, 2014

Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright holds the championship trophy after his team beat Kentucky 60-54, at the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip

There would be no double whammy for Connecticut on Friday. 

The defending national champions lost DeAndre Daniels a year early to the NBA draft, but explosive guard Ryan Boatright won't be joining him. 

UConn's men's basketball Twitter feed provided the news: 

As FOX Sports' Aaron Torres noted, this development makes Boatright the last remaining recruit who was brought to Storrs by former head coach Jim Calhoun: 

That makes him the de facto leader of next year's Huskies squad, as he'll be called upon to replace the giant shoes of Shabazz Napier. 

Impossibly high expectations come with that job—Napier won two national titles with UConn, was named this year's tournament's Most Outstanding Player and established himself as a school legend—but it would be difficult to doubt Boatright. 

Although his offensive production and efficiency (12.1 points, 3.4 assists, .521 true-shooting percentage) dropped as a junior, the 6'0", 168-pound guard proved crucial for the Huskies' surprising national championship run. 

An absolute nuisance on the defensive end thanks to his blinding quickness, Boatright was the hidden star while Napier controlled most of the limelight. 

After Boatright frustrated Andrew Harrison into eight points and four turnovers in the championship game, Kentucky head coach John Calipari talked about the diminutive guard's importance, via USA Today's Dan Wolken: "When he got into the other point guard like he did against Florida and like he did against us, they have a big advantage." 

While he'll get his chance to be the true leader at point guard in 2014-15, Boatright will have some incoming help, too. 

North Carolina State transfer Rodney Purvis will return to the hardwood after sitting out a year, and 5-star recruit Daniel Hamilton also joins the mix. As College Basketball Talk's Terrence Payne argued, the continued development of sophomore Terrence Samuel and addition of freshman Sam Cassell Jr. will help keep Kevin Ollie's backcourt at an elite level:

Replacing Napier and Daniels certainly won't be easy, but with Boatright at the helm of an extremely talented roster, the Huskies are going to be right back in the mix next season.

As for the NBA, it will always be there, and a senior season as the go-to guy will give Boatright his best chance yet to improve his underwhelming stock.