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Ryan Ayers is a bit of an enigma. Unlike Kyle McAlarney, he was never really able to use his incredible shooting ability to develop into a consistent scorer. However, unlike Zeller and Hillesland, he honed his one skill and really became the best player possible with limited athletic ability. It isn't a development question as much as a lack of consistent scoring from the small forward spot.
Ryan entered the program as a three-star shooting guard. The son of a very good professional player and coach, Ayers always demonstrated a strong work ethic and commitment to improving his shot.
Ayers saw limited minutes freshman and sophomore year. Junior season, he became a starter but lost his position partway through to year to Zach Hillesland. Clearly a shooter with incredible talent, Ayers stroked 45% from beyond the arc in 2008. However, he disappeared in losses to Marquette and Georgetown and finished with an average of 7.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
This year, Ryan has improved his stats with increased minutes while dropping his shooting percentage a bit. In dip in percentage has been a small problem, however, due to his showing a bit more assertiveness in looking for his shot. My biggest problem with Ayers throughout his career was his inability to step up and become the needed third scorer. Against South Dakota, he flirted with the school record for three pointers and scored 35 points. He disappeared again at the beginning of the Big East season, but has responded to a midseason benching with seven double digit scoring games in his past ten contests. His performances against Providence and Villanova are indicators of his final development into the consistent third scorer we have needed so much this year. Unfortunately, it has been too little too late as other players have disappeared on offense and the team's defense has been terrible all year.
Ryan is a decent defender who uses his long wingspan to make up for a lack of athleticism. Unfortunately, that lack of athleticism has really held him back on both ends of the floor. Combine Ayers' shot with a guy like Carleton Scott and we would have one really good basketball player.
Still, you can't blame him for just making the most of what God gave him. I wish we could have him another year because you really get the feeling that Ryan has been turning the corner towards the end of this season. Finally overcoming the tentativeness to shoot that has held him back his whole career, Ayers is turning into a pretty decent option on the wing. Thanks for your hard work, Ryan. I wish we could have seen this from you sooner.