February 23, 2013

Diew-ing it all

Kevin McCarthy

A great deal of lip service is offered by recruits towards selecting this basketball program or that because of the academic prowess of a school but someone definitely walking that talk in real life is Head-Royce (HR) 2013 backcourter Ryan Diew.

He's come on strong the past couple of seasons on the basketball court, been a permanent resident of that neighborhood in the classroom and is now determining his college choice grounded in what institution will provide the best educational opportunity.

photo of Ryan Diew

“With recruiting, D-I, D-II or D-III, it doesn't really matter,” the 6-foot-3 Diew explained. “I'm looking for a strong academic institution. Athletics is definitely important but there is a life after basketball and not a high probability of people playing in the NBA. There is glitz and glam [in] playing on television but I want the glitz and glam [of] later in life. I would turn down a D-I for a highly rated D-III because basketball is a vehicle to take me to the best education possible.”

He's looking at engineering, communications and computer science as majors.

One school, Washington University in St. Louis is currently engaged in a mutual admiration society of sorts with Diew. The school's undergraduate program is ranked 14th in the nation in this year's U.S. News & World Report National Universities survey. A D-III athletics member, the Bears own national basketball championships in 2008 and 2009 and are currently ranked #22 in the nation. Former Branson High guard Eli Morris is a freshman on this year's squad and The Menlo School's Kent Lacob a sophomore.

As to his vision of his future self -- “I see myself working in Silicon Valley, maybe at a startup company. The lure of the roundball though will remain strong though because ‘I definitely want to coach somewhere down the road.’’

Diew sees being at Head Royce as a blessing in many ways: “I'm surrounded by kids who are so brilliant and talented. There's an All-America soccer player and two Team USA baseball members but they're really level-headed. I see them on a daily basis and being around them inspires me. It's important to stay humble because it could all be gone quickly.”

HR is currently sitting on a 15-game winning streak, being 22-4 overall this season and 10-0 in the Bay County League East (BCLE). Diew was recently named the most valuable player in the BCLE playoffs for Coach Brendan Blakeley's Jayhawks, this for the second straight season.

He is averaging 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 steals an outing and while sporting a 1960 score on the SAT. He took it cold turkey initially and scored a 1850 but with preparation notched his latest number. He believes he can do better -- “I'm still a little bummed out.”

All of his achievements required a lot of work with basketball as his hardest slog.

“On my first club team, I was below average, a jumpshooter from the corner who couldn't dribble a lick. I was playing with guys like Marcus Lee and Kendall Smith. When puberty hit, the gap widened and they were playing over the rim. I was small and not very strong. But then I grew a bit and started passing kids who were [once] better than me.”

Putting the ball in the basket was his best skill, but with a catch, at least early on -- “Since I started playing basketball, I've been a pretty good shooter. But I had a push shot, one that was accurate but streaky. Then I had a bad game against St. Mary's and afterwards my coach and my Dad pushed me to change. My shot now looks a lot better.”

Asked what his best talents are on the court, Diew offered, “I would say my shooting, my finishing ability and being a good active defender.”

He also has benefited from being utilized differently depending on the time of the year.

“With Head Royce, Coach Blakeley likes to play me off the ball, anywhere from the one through the five because I can jump and dunk.”

But come spring and summer as a member of the Oakland Rebels, “I'm the starting shooting guard and second leading scorer while playing a little one.”

He see changes in his game as he's gotten older.

“My aggressiveness has always there but I play smarter now. That headiness comes from playing over the summer [in the various local, regional and national tournaments against major talents]. My leadership has grown and I'm a captain now. We're responsible for doing things like team-bonding exercises to help playing together.”

That betterment has resulted in being an attention magnet in 2012-13.

Diew explained, “In the middle of the season, teams started guarding me differently, using a box-and-one or faceguarding and putting the most physical defender one me. I started feeling like I had to do this or do that but now I let the pressure off, just go out and play and whatever happens happens.”

It's HR's opponents who feel the pressure.