TUCSON – After finishing his high school career at AZ Compass Prep, Kylan Boswell stepped onto the University of Arizona campus in late summer, just another 17-year-old freshman about to start college.
Except Boswell isn’t like the other freshmen. He’s a five-star recruit who reclassified to enter college early and join the Wildcats men’s basketball team this season and is quickly turning heads.
“Well, Kylan came (to Arizona), and he said he was 17, I almost s— my pants,” said starting Wildcat point guard Kerr Kriisa after then-No. 17 Arizona defeated Southern University, 95-78, to start the season 2-0.
In April, while on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit with Team Why Not, the 6-foot-2, 195 pound Boswell suffered a hairline fracture on the fifth metatarsal on his right foot. After having surgery, he and his family made the decision to enroll him early at Arizona, as the school had better resources for his rehabilitation.
Following surgery, Boswell, who won’t turn 18 until April, finished his senior year of high school in a month after making the decision to reclassify.
“We couldn’t really do anything with my foot,” Boswell said before Arizona opened its season. “So, we just had to let it rest, but the academics for that month were very difficult.”
Despite missing the Red-Blue game and coach Tommy Lloyd saying that Boswell would not make his debut until midway through the season, the point guard started logging full practices a week before the Wildcats’ preseason game against Western Oregon.
Boswell would go on to play against the Owls, recording 10 minutes. Then he had to prepare for a bigger role the following week after it was announced that starting guard Courtney Ramey was suspended for the first three regular-season games for participating in the Portsmouth Invitational, a non certified pre-draft camp, in the spring.
“Kylan Boswell, he’s someone that I expect to play,” Lloyd said the day before Arizona’s season’s opener against Nicholls. “A heck of a game for a 17-year-old – who should be a senior in high school – point guard to step into. But he’s got poise, hopefully he’ll be prepared, and it’ll be a great welcome to him to high level college basketball.”
During the opener, Kriisa got into early foul trouble and Boswell checked in less than four minutes into the game. He finished with eight points and five assists in 23 minutes in the Wildcats’ 117-75 victory.
“I thought he looked good out there. In the second half, he looked like he really settled into me,” said Lloyd, adding he had no planned minutes restriction for Boswell.
Boswell admitted he “was pretty nervous going into the exhibition game (and) first game, but I’ve kind of gotten adjusted. You prepare for the games and stuff, so when you step on the court, it’s just another day going on the court.”
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Boswell, who won’t be eligible for the NBA Draft until after next season, had four points and five assists in 22 minutes in the Wildcats’ game against Southern. In Arizona’s third game, Boswell logged 17 minutes and showed off his defensive abilities, drawing two charges in the first half of a 104-77 win over Utah Tech Thursday night at McKale Center.
“Kylan is a good player, and I think he’s doing a good job settling in and figuring out what it’s like at this level,” Lloyd said after the Southern game. “Playing in these high pressure games, I think he’s looked pretty poised. So I think as he continues to get some games under his belt (and) some minutes, he’s really gonna help us, which is huge.”
Lloyd had high expectations for Boswell early on. After the Red-Blue game, Lloyd said he was excited for Boswell to start playing, calling him one of the players who would be a “natural leader” for the team.
Arizona is Boswell’s fourth different school in as many years. He grew up in Champaign, Illinois, where he lived until eighth grade, but attended Colony High School in Ontario, California, as a high school freshman, then transferred to Centennial in California for his sophomore year, followed by one season at AZ Compass Prep School in Chandler to wrap up his high school career.
“It’s nothing really new,” Boswell said of playing at Arizona after moving around so much in high school. “(It’s the) same stuff really: working out every day and in the weight room, everything is just more intense and more focused and detail(ed) now. But I feel like whatever the situation is, I can adapt and improve.”
In addition to high school ball, Boswell played on a lot of AAU circuits during the offseasons, and he won a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, averaging 9.2 points and 5.7 assists over six games. However, he only had three years to enjoy the events that attract the country’s top high school basketball players.
“It took me a minute (to process),” Boswell said of having to miss out on some of the senior year games, like the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, after putting in a lot of time to reach them. But Boswell had no regrets coming to Arizona.
“It was just really long-term (situational thinking),” Boswell said. “Sacrifice for something bigger in the future. The rehab here, I don’t feel like I could have got it anywhere else, so I would definitely take that over any days of messing up my career, really.”
Boswell committed to Arizona in February as the fourth-ranked point guard in the 2023 class before he moved to the 2022 class. He said he really liked his early conversations with Lloyd, and once he started watching more of the Wildcats’ games, he realized they ran the same free-flowing offense he did in eighth grade, so learning it has been “second nature” to him.
“I definitely wanted to come because of recognizing this type of offense and playing in the past and I liked it really,” Boswell said. “So, that definitely had an influence (on his decision).”
With the Wildcats, Boswell has found mentors to emulate including junior Kriisa, who helped lead Arizona to a Pac-12 championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament last season and posted his second career triple-double against Southern, along with Ramey, who gained a lot of knowledge playing high-level college basketball as a four-year starter at Texas.
“Kylan’s really coming along,” Kriisa said. “Obviously, he has a lot to learn. But you know, I think we’re there to help him. He’s gonna be a great point guard for this program and the future.”
Coming in, Boswell took pride in being a stronger type of point guard, saying he had developed a “dog-like mentality” after being under the direction of AZ Compass Prep coach Ed Gibson. Despite Boswell’s young age, he has to be even more physical with the intensity that college basketball brings.
“I mean everybody’s men, going from high school and coming here,” Boswell said. “It’s definitely a different level, but just being in the weight room really, I feel like I’ve gotten adjusted to the type of physicality they play in college basketball, so it’s not really that big of an issue for me anymore.”
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With Ramey eligible to return for the Wildcats’ next game when they travel to Hawaii to play Cincinnati on Monday in their first matchup of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Lloyd recognizes Boswell’s playing minutes might dwindle.
“Kylan is having success, but at the end of the day, I keep telling you guys I want to kind of give him some time to develop,” Lloyd said after the Southern victory. “I’m excited to see what kind of jump he makes this week and practice with a couple of games under his belt. But you guys can see what a special talent he is, and he’s only going to get better.”
Even with all that Boswell’s been through, Lloyd has always had supreme confidence in his point guard.
“The kid’s 17 years old, he’s gonna be a hell of a basketball player,” Lloyd said after the Wildcats’ exhibition game when Boswell logged his first minutes. “(He) could be an all-time great here. But let’s give him a little bit of time and let’s let it happen organically.”