December 18, 2011 7:12 AM
It's hard not to be impressed with UCSB sophomore guard Kyle Boswell.
For starters, the guy is in shooting range when he crosses the mid-court line. Add to that his ability to play Division I men's basketball while dealing with the challenges of one of the toughest majors that UCSB, or any other institution of higher learning, has to offer, and it's, like I said, impressive.
Boswell will learn in the next week to 10 days whether he has satisfied the university's requirements — through his prerequisite work — to be accepted as an engineering major. In the meantime, he will use his long-distance shooting game and quick feet on defense to try to help the Gauchos win the final two games of their current four-game road trip at Cal on Monday and BYU on Thursday,
"It does get exhausting," Boswell said of his two full-time responsibilities. "But I do know exactly what I'm getting myself into, it's not a surprise to me. I've been working hard in school my whole life and so I just want to continue the long journey and be able to finish it off."
What is a bit surprising is that in Bob Williams' 14 years as UCSB's coach and his eight previous seasons at UC Davis, where he led the Aggies to the Division II national championship in 1998, he has never had a player on his roster graduate with a degree in engineering. To go one step further, he's never had a player at UCSB who has majored in engineering.
"It's not a common major for an athlete here because it's such a challenging major," Williams said. "At Davis, I had a kid come in who was an engineering major but he had to back away from it in his sophomore year because it's such a challenging major."
Williams also made a good point as it relates to the two of us.
"I'm not sure you and I, together, in a game of Scrabble could even spell Engineering," he said.
Coach is right on the money with that one.
What's more remarkable is that Boswell is the first scholarship basketball player with the UCSB men's program to major in engineering since Lucius Davis in 1992.
"I know it would be a struggle for a lot of kids," Boswell said. "If you don't have a background in studying hard or academics isn't too serious for you, you will not make it through.
"There's a lot of time you have to spend outside of basketball and if you're not willing to put in the hours at night and around an already busy schedule with games and practices, it just won't happen."
Boswell felt the effects of his rigorous schedule last summer when, after taking a prerequisite class at UCSB, he decided not to go with the team on its 10-day trip to Canada, opting instead to go home for some much needed rest.
"It was a fun trip and everyone said they had a great time, but I unfortunately I had to go home for a little while," he said. "But I came back, and obviously I'm in a new state of mind right now and it's exciting to be back.
"My mind needed a break, I was pretty burned out and I was exhausted. I kind of over did it to be honest; I had to stay here in Santa Barbara all summer long and it was just a grind for me."
Even though he didn't make it north of the border with his teammates, Boswell still could escape some the work needed to prepare him for the season.
"When I didn't go to Canada, coach Williams said I have to make sure I learn the new plays and learn what we're trying to accomplish this year," he said. "I pick things up really quickly and I feel like I understand a lot of the tactical and strategic parts of the game.
"A lot of times I may not get it done to the best of someone else's ability, but I know exactly how to get it done to the best of my ability."
It's a good thing Boswell recharged his battery because, according to him, it's about 80 hours a week in the classroom and with basketball, which leaves little time for just about anything else.
"Once the quarter starts it's rare that I will turn on the TV," Boswell said. "I can't tell you how many times I missed Sunday football or Saturday football. It just doesn't happen.
"You've got labs and you've got other classes to go to and you've got homework to take care of on a daily basis. The least of my worries is trying to watch (ESPN's) SportsCenter because I have to take care of homework and basketball to make sure it gets done."
I have a hunch Boswell might re-think the SportsCenter thing if he launches a game-winning 3-pointer that would land him somewhere in the show's Top-10 Plays of the Night. And that might not be too much of a stretch considering he has the green light to shoot from his coach.
"You have to guard him. If you back off of him, then he has strict orders to shoot the ball," Williams said. "Would you like to be a kid where every miss goes on me? I tell him, 'just shoot the ball.' We know how important it is for us to have a guy like that out on the floor."
Like I said, impressive.
Gerry Fall has covered sports in Santa Barbara for 18 years. His column appears on Sundays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org