“He's always been around sports,” Larry said. “His birthday is in October, so it's the middle of football season. So most of his birthday parties were held in the locker room after practice.”
Ryan was born in Ardmore while Larry was coaching at Healdton, and the influence of small-town life in Oklahoma has had a hefty impact on Ryan's mental makeup.
“We've always instilled in all of our kids that whatever you expect to get out of something, you better put into it,” Larry said. “If you're gonna do something, do it 100 percent. Don't just halfway do it, and they've all kind of lived by that.”
There are a lot of physical gifts that set Ryan apart on the basketball court, but his mental approach might be more important. He steps on the court with a refined intensity that is difficult to explain.
“He is as cerebral as any player I've been around,” Sanders said. “He's not a very emotional kid. He doesn't lose his cool. In fact, there were times he kept me from losing my cool. That just ties into his personality. He doesn't get angry or aggressive in that type of nature. But at the same time, he's liable to go out and block 15 of your shots.
“He's just a unique kid. I've never seen a kid like him. I think that's a big part of his success.”