The 2020-2021 Kentucky Wildcat basketball team has officially arrived on campus. And while there is still some uncertainty about what exactly the season will look like (Mitch Barnhart is hoping for at least 50 percent capacity at Rupp Arena) the games will eventually get played. And because of it, it’s never too early to get to know the new players on this roster even better.
Therefore, in addition to all the long-form articles KSR did in the spring, we’ll also spend the next few weeks trying to track down other people who are most familiar with these players, to get even further insight on them. For the incoming high school players, it might be a high school or AAU coach, and for the college transfers, maybe an assistant or head coach who coached against them this past season.
On Tuesday, we profiled the man who will have the ball in his hands more than maybe any other Wildcat in 2020-2021, Devin Askew. Now, it’s time to slide off the ball, to another player who is headed to Lexington by way of Southern California (and Atlanta before that) BJ Boston.
At this point, Boston’s story is pretty well-documented. He joins this Kentucky squad as the most highly-touted player in the class, a McDonald’s All-American and consensus Top 10 prospect nationally who several college coaches have compared to NBA All-Star Brandon Ingram.
But make no mistake, those accolades haven’t come by accident for Boston. They’ve come with a lot of hard work, and a singular focus on basketball greatness, according to the man who coached him last winter: Sierra Canyon head coach Andre Chevalier.
“BJ is very driven,” Chevalier told KSR in an interview earlier this spring. “He has a goal that he wants to achieve and he feels like he knows what it takes for him to get there. And he makes sure that whatever he and his family have decided are going to be the best path, he’s very focused and intent on getting the job done, plus doing extra.”
Doing the little bit extra.
It’s a work ethic that Boston discussed at length with KSR earlier this year, one that routinely gets him into the gym two or three times a day under normal circumstances, and one that allowed him to even go viral during a pandemic, when gyms across the country were closed.
BJ Boston isn’t just shooting 1,000 shots. He’s making 1,000 shots. pic.twitter.com/UXdFbOOuhG
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) April 12, 2020
It’s also a work ethic that has allowed him to get where he is today: Not just as an elite high school player, but also one of the best pure scorers to come out of any high school, anywhere in recent years. Boston averaged just under 20 points per game on a loaded Sierra Canyon squad this season, and more than 22 points per game at Peach Jam, the most prestigious AAU tournament on the schedule a summer ago.
And it isn’t inconceivable to see a future where Boston becomes the go-to guy on the 2020-2021 Kentucky Wildcats, and potentially even leads the team in scoring.
“He’s an elite scorer,” Chevalier said. “He scores the ball from every level.”
Still, to label Boston a “scorer” severely undermines the fact that he is a complete player overall. According to Chevalier, Boston is an excellent rebounder for a wing and is also a better passer and playmaker than anyone realizes as well. “He is a very, very good passer,” Chevalier said. “And people don’t realize that because he’s been required to score so much that he hasn’t had to pass the ball a lot.”
More than any one individual skill though, the reason that the “scorer” label is unfair to Boston is that it undersells his most important trait: The fact that he is a great teammate.
Yes, Boston scores in bunches, but that is more about the role he’s been asked to play throughout his career than it is any desire to selfishly stuff the stat sheet. More than anything, Boston is about winning according to Chevalier. If he scores 30, it’s because it’s what needed to help the team win. If he scores 10, that’s fine too. Just as long as there is a check in the win column at the end of the night.
“He definitely wants to win first,” Chevalier said. “Winning is a priority for him… As long as the team is winning he is fine.”
And if there is any doubt that Boston will bring a team-first attitude to Kentucky, well, all you really need to do is look at his last season at Sierra Canyon. It’s no secret that Sierra Canyon was one of the most talented high school teams in the country, a group that had two McDonald’s All-Americans (Boston and Stanford bound Ziaire Williams) another high-major product (TCU’s Terren Frank), two of the best sophomores in the country (Amari Bailey and Shy Odom) and Bronny James, one of the top freshmen in America as well.
That loaded roster will also reflect the situation he has now walked into at Kentucky, where four other Top 40 prospects, three high-level transfers and one key returnee all join him.
At Sierra Canyon, Boston didn’t run from the challenge, but instead embraced it.
And Chevalier expects the same at Kentucky.
“Playing with and against other elite players, he has no fear,” Chevalier said. “He isn’t going to be concerned with who he is playing against and who he is playing with.”
“I think he knows that’s what’s going to make him better, and challenge him to be great.”
To listen to KSR’s interview with Boston from earlier this spring, click below