Cedric Boatner understands that talent gets an athlete only so far. Hard work and discipline make a player great.
"Every time I go to the gym, I pop off about 500 jump shots," the Harlem High School junior basketball player said.
Boatner, 16, grew up with basketball as an integral part of his life.
"I've always been into basketball, ever since I was 5 and my brother put a ball into my hands," he said.
The playground interest eventually turned into a competitive passion as Boatner watched his big brother, Patrick, play in European basketball leagues while his military family was stationed in Germany.
"We moved here when I was in fifth grade, but it was in eighth grade that I started really taking basketball seriously," the 5-foot-11 shooting guard said.
Harlem High basketball coach Kim Chambers said the seriousness with which Boatner approaches basketball has deepened this season.
As a sophomore, Boatner's temper often translated into multiple technical fouls. This season, Chambers said he's letting his play speak for him.
"The big thing that's different from last year to this year is that he's keeping his mouth shut, he's focusing on basketball and he's being a good team leader," Chambers said.
Serving as a role model for younger players is important to Boatner, he said.
"I know they're looking to me and I want to set a good example," he said.
The newfound attitude also is improving Boatner's game.
Thus far this season, he's averaging 19 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as the Bulldog's leading scorer. Earlier this season, he notched 28 points against Lakeside and 24 against Evans, Chambers said.
Boatner's play and leadership is improving the depth of the entire Bulldog team, Chamber's said.
"As teams focus on him, other players on the court are getting open," he said. "We're going to get better quality shots, because their focus is on Cedric."
Opponents are not the only ones paying attention to Boatner.
Scouts from Stanford University and Louisiana Tech University have expressed an interest in recruiting him, he said.
"That's what I want," Boatner said. "I want to get to that next level. I just got to keep working at it."
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