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Kylan Boswell blossoming for Arizona, just as (and when) Tommy Lloyd expected

arizona-wildcats-kylan-boswell-arizona-wildcats-tommy-lloyd-freshman-foot-injury-pac12-2023 Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

This week was supposed to be the beginning of Kylan Boswell’s final semester of high school. Instead it may have ended up being the start of his arrival as Arizona’s next great guard.

Boswell had arguably the best—and certainly most impactful—performance of his brief Wildcat career, scoring nine points and adding six rebounds and six assists in Thursday night’s comeback win over Washington. He also hit three 3-pointers, the first time a UA freshman has gone for 9/6/6 with three triples since Jason Gardner in 1999.

“My main focus basically has been putting in work, basically anytime I can,” Boswell said afterward. “I’ve been getting my shots up, and I just trust myself.”

A 4-star guard in the 2023 recruiting class, Boswell reclassified to 2022 and joined Arizona over the summer. He did so in order to benefit from the UA’s medical and strength staffs as he recovered from surgery for a broken foot suffered in April.

That meant doing next to nothing during the summer beyond rehab, and then when preseason practice began in September his on-court activities were still limited. Boswell healed up enough to play 10 minutes in the UA’s exhibition against Western Oregon, and then a week later had a solid collegiate debut with eight points and five assists against Nicholls State.

But after scoring four points with five assists against Southern, Boswell went the next seven contests without a point or an assist, his usage cut back as the competition improved. Then he went for eight points, seven rebounds and eight assists in a career-high 26 minutes against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi only to combine for six points, five rebounds and six assists over the next four games including a scoreless 7-minute effort on New Year’s Eve at ASU.

None of those performances mattered to coach Tommy Lloyd, however.

“I told him all along, I’m not evaluating you as a player until January 1st,” Lloyd said. “You have to January 1 to be ready. And I wanted to give him a long porch, so to speak, so he can kinda see where he was at and feel some success, feel some struggles.”

Four days after the first of the year, Boswell logged a team-best plus/minus of 16 and was on the court over senior Courtney Ramey for the final 3:40. Just like Lloyd envisioned, right?

“Nostrathomas,” Lloyd joked.

“I wish I could say that, but no. That kid gets all the credit. He’s tough as nails. He’s hung in there. He’s got swag. And you know what, you know how hard it is to be 17 years old, should be playing in high school. But he’s here with us, and come out and not have it go your way. Sit out for four months. Get your pocket picked in front of the country on national TV against San Diego State, and to hang in there and then come out and do this? Dude is special. And I think you guys are gonna see that more from him.”

Boswell swished his first shot of the night, a 3-pointer with 11:38 left in the first half. It was his first made 3 since the Corpus Christi game and just the fourth in 18 tries all season. His second 3 came with 92 seconds left in the first half, part of Arizona’s 15-0 run that gave it a lead for the first time.

The second half saw Boswell miss his first three shots, all from the perimeter, but in the meantime he grabbed three defensive rebounds and dished out three assists, including one on Pelle Larsson’s 3 during Arizona’s go-ahead 13-0 run, and then later on Kerr Kriisa’s triple that gave the Wildcats their biggest lead at 63-56.

Boswell then made Arizona’s final field goal, off a corner 3 with 53 seconds left.

“This is why you put the work in to take those shots when the time comes,” Boswell said.I felt like all those misses were good misses. And I was open again.”