One year later, Ryan Boyce knows he made the right decision

Ryan Boyce looks back at his decision to transfer and play during a pandemic. Photo Submitted by GSU Athletics

For Ryan Boyce, the last two years have been anything but ordinary. He redshirted and played during a pandemic in his first two college basketball seasons. 

However, his biggest challenge came this season after taking on a significant role for the Panthers.

A year ago, he played for his hometown Memphis Tigers and got daily coaching from former NBA All-Star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Now, in a global pandemic, his first season with the Panthers has brought several unforeseen events.

“It’s definitely been crazy,” Boyce said. “I’m happy to be in the position I’m in at Georgia State.”

The sophomore guard transferred from Memphis after just five games in 2019 and redshirted the remainder of the season on the Georgia State sideline. Since making his debut against Georgia Tech earlier this season, Boyce has made an enormous impact as a starter. Due to injuries and play stoppages due to COVID-19, the Panthers thrust Boyce into the spotlight.

In the season opener, against the Yellow Jackets, Boyce only scored four points and grabbed three rebounds. Still, his exceptional defense wrote the narrative as the Panthers won 124-120 in a quadruple-overtime thriller. 

On the defensive end, Boyce’s versatility allows him to come off the bench and start games for the Panthers when needed.

Even as his first season comes during a pandemic, he has seen his game evolve. When looking back at his journey from Memphis to Atlanta, Boyce feels like the choice was relatively easy and has no regret playing in Atlanta. 

“When I came across Georgia State and [head coach Rob] Lanier, it felt like family,” Boyce said. “[Jojo] Toppin showed me the ins and outs of State and to my classes on campus.

Lanier is a significant reason for Boyce’s decision to transfer to Georgia State. Under Lanier, he’s been able to get more playing time and become more prominent in the Panther offense. 

While he still hasn’t acclimated to the new style completely, Boyce continuously finds ways to make his time on the court count as the Panthers etch closer to the conference tournament. The Panthers will play numerous games over the remaining weeks of the month to make up for the games missed from earlier in the season. 

Boyce has also developed a strong relationship with fellow transfers Jojo Toppin and Eliel Nsoseme. Both Nsoseme and Boyce redshirted last season, and the two developed a friendship as both became acclimated to Georgia State. Now, all three are first-had experiencing what people told them.

However, playing during a pandemic had its challenges for Boyce. For one, the constant stoppages of play have been draining for Boyce. While he understands the safety precautions, the pauses to the season have halted the team’s momentum and chemistry. 

The Panthers have postponed several games due to staff and players’ health. They canceled last weekend’s road trip to face the Troy Trojans after a Georgia Southern Eagles member tested positive for COVID-19. 

“It’s really been tough,” Boyce said. “We have to get back into game shape, and the pauses hurt our chemistry on the court.”

Boyce last played in the Panthers’ 79-75 victory over rival Georgia Southern on Feb.11, and it was his first start in nearly a month. He couldn’t play in the Panthers’ return from a COVID-19 hiatus against the South Alabama Jaguars. 

However, Boyce has taken advantage of the opportunities to improve his game. Even with the season’s unpredictability, Boyce has been a consistent and reliable piece for the Panthers in 2021. Not only has he been a solid contributor on the court, but he’s been an essential piece off the court as well. 

Boyce looks to continue his solid play during the Panthers’ home game tonight against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at 5:00 p.m.