Prep boys' basketball: Andrus blossoms in expanded role
American Fork center Ryan Andrus doesn't back down from a challenge, and he has the scars to prove it.
The two vertical stripes, each about three inches long on his right biceps, are wounds from what he may in time remember as an ill-advised self-branding.
"It was a campfire dare. I can't back down from dares," the junior said coyly. "My brother did it the night before and he told me I should do it. I got dared to, and I was like, 'Oh, why not?'"
Andrus takes the same approach to challenges on the court. Dare him to beat you in the post, where he uses his 6-foot-10 frame and quickness to go over or around opponents. Dare him to step back and shoot the 3-pointer, where he has the best percentage on the team.
In turn, Andrus is daring anyone to stop him and to ignore the season he is turning in so far.
Andrus was averaging 20 points and six rebounds through the Cavemen's first 11 games. He is the only player averaging double figures in scoring, and he was tied for second on the team with eight 3-pointers.
"I hit 3s a lot," Andrus said. "I actually have the best percentage on the team right now. Other bigs play off me [out there], and they don't know that's my shot."
After posting just four double-figure scoring performances a season ago, Andrus has done so in 10 of his first 11 games this season, highlighted by a 31-pont game against Snow Canyon on Dec. 19.
The biggest difference, he said, has been playing time. He was a reserve player last season when forward Quincy Bair and guards Austin Waddoups and Zac Hunter did most of the scoring.
"Last year, it sort of wasn't my team, that was my mentality," Andrus said. "I'd get the ball and it wasn't my turn to make a play. This year, I'm a captain, it's my team and so I'm going to take it to the rim every time. When I get the ball, I'm going to score. I'm going to make things happen for my team."
But his scoring alone hasn't been enough to carry the Cavemen, who finished seventh in the 16-team Jordan Holiday Classic and enter Friday's final non-region game against Syracuse with an 8-4 mark.
American Fork coach Doug Meacham said Andrus, though clearly talented on the offensive end, has plenty of room to improve on defense.
"We have to have him be aggressive on both ends of the floor to be good," Meacham said. "The most talented players need to bring it every single night, whether or not their shots are falling. That's what I expect from him.
"He's very skilled. He's a talented player, but he has room for improvement."