Ryan’s pro career starts today

After leading his team to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament semifinals, Colt Ryan's chase for a pro career starts Thursday at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Photo by Associated Press.

After leading his team to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament semifinals, Colt Ryan’s chase for a pro career starts Thursday at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Photo by Associated Press.

UE senior Colt Ryan found himself in Florida during the week leading up to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, training with an old coach before his debut at the professional scouting combine.

The Missouri Valley Conference’s two-time scholar-athlete of the year didn’t miss any school while doing so.

“With my class schedule, I only needed one class, and it’s an online class,” Ryan said. “I definitely set it up that way because that’s the way I wanted to do it. I wanted to focus the last semester during the season also. I hadn’t really planned for it after the season. It was really for the season.

“But it’s just working out in my favor now.”

At the Virginia-based tournament, Ryan’s Portsmouth Sports Club team* tips at 6 p.m. tonight against a Roger Brown’s Restaurant squad** with Oregon’s Tony Woods and Kanas’ Travis Releford. A familiar face, Wichita State’s Carl Hall, will also oppose Ryan.

“I want to play at the highest level possible, and to play there you have to go against the best players,” the Batesville, Ind., native said. “So this is one test to see where I’m at. I’m excited for it — just to be able to play with them and get a feel for what the next level might be like. And then, depending on how it goes, there’s a bunch of things throughout the summer — different camps, different workouts, different leagues — that will give more opportunities also.”

Ryan is guaranteed three games over the next three days at Portsmouth, where top college seniors have showcased their skills in front of NBA and other professional scouts for 60 years.

Starting with Thursday’s games — Ryan’s included — the PIT plans to live stream games both online and through a cell phone app built for the iPhone and Android devices.

By tipoff time, the 6-foot-5 forward and UE’s all-time leading scorer hopes to have someone vouching for him off the court, too.

“Having an agent there helps a lot,” Ryan said. “They’re able to talk to scouts and coaches that are there for me when I’m playing in the games, so if I’m having a good game they can be in a team’s ear or scout’s ear. And if I’m having a bad game, they can be there to deflect that conversation to something else.”

Should Ryan sign a contract this summer, he’ll join former Aces Shy Ely and Denver Holmes (Switzerland) and Kenny Harris (Israel) as pros.

Ryan, who dealt with a hip injury during non-conference play last season, still averaged a team-high 20.1 points and 4 assists. He passed Larry Humes for the top spot on UE’s scoring list during a run to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament’s semifinals, which ended with a March 30 loss at eventual champion East Carolina.

“I’m just trying to make sure all my skills are sharp — ball handling, shooting — just making sure everything feels good since I haven’t played in a couple weeks,” Ryan said. “It’s just important to go out there and be at the highest level and ready to compete.

“I’m just going to go out and play my game and see what happens. But I know that like, in the NBA, a lot of guys are looking at me to be strictly a shooter. My assist records would show that I can pass the ball and know what I’m doing more than just shooting.”

*Ryan’s teammates have changed since rosters were originally released last week. They are now Butler’s Andrew Smith, Oral Roberts’ Damen Bell-Holter, Florida’s Mike Rosario, University of Detroit Mercy’s Nick Minnerath, Washington’s Abdul Gaddy, Long Island’s Jamal Olasewere and Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster.

**Louisville’s Peyton Siva and Indiana’s Christian Watford were originally on the Roger Brown’s Restaurant roster but will no longer attent the PIT.

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