Ari Boya’s freshman year at Bradley was a roller coaster. The 7-foot-1 center suffered an ankle injury at the beginning of the season, causing him to miss the first two months.
“The injury last year was very sad, but in the end, it was good because we won the championship, so I was really proud for the team,” Boya said. “And then for right now, I feel like I am going to be really good this year and I’m going to be ready to go.”
“I think it was a life lesson for him, that there is adversity all the time. And as long as you work hard and stay positive, you can overcome it,” said Bradley head coach Brian Wardle. “And I hope last year that’s what he learned, and all the things he learned, it’s made him hungrier.”
Boya has put in a lot of work this summer to improve his fitness. The Cameroon-native has also received some additional motivation after watching a fellow Cameroonian on basketballs biggest stage: Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam.
“To move from Cameroon and come here to play basketball, its really a blessing for me. To be able to have this opportunity to come play basketball, because a lot of people don’t have that opportunity,” said Boya. “So, we got Siakam from Toronto Raptors, he has an NBA Championship. He’s from Cameroon too, so I feel like that gives me more energy to fight like him and work hard.”
And while the NBA is a dream for Boya, he remains focused on the task at hand: helping Bradley win a second straight MVC title and head back to the NCAA tournament.
“We talk about that a lot of the time. We always dream about it, the second championship back to back,” said Boya. “So that’s why we work harder right now and I am really happy to be here to represent my country, and Bradley too.”