Conference Preview

Posted On: 10/9/15 12:00 AM

(Photo credit: MaxPreps)

The hockey player has turned himself into quite the hooper.

Frank Ryder, the 6-foot-10 senior center at Fairview, began his athletic career on skates, a standout puck-handler in the state’s competitive hockey community.

“I wanted to be in the NHL,” he said.

Now, as he prepares for his final prep season, eyeing a future college career, Ryder’s goals have shifted as he’s transformed into one Colorado’s premier basketball talents.

“Seeing where he’s gone from eighth grade to now, it’s truly remarkable,” Colorado Titans director Rick Jimenez said. “He’s been with us for four years, and his growth over that time has been huge.”

Ryder’s journey to this new frontier as a Division I basketball prospect has been a winding and intriguing one. It wasn’t until his freshman season at Fairview that he began playing basketball – but excelling at the sport was still a ways away. Ryder said he didn’t even start on his freshman team.

But by the end of his freshman season, Ryder was 6-foot-7, and he began to realize he’d have the size necessary to play the game at a high level. Now, he had to develop the necessary skill.

During his sophomore year, as he continued to get taller and longer, Ryder went to Florida for a camp at IMG Academy. The camp soon turned into an enrollment. Ryder became a high school student on the other side of the country, honing his skills as a basketball player with some of the best instructors in the nation.

“By the end of my sophomore year, I was dunking everything,” he said. “That’s when my mentality really took off. … I said, ‘This is something that I can do. I can get my education paid for.’ And I really fell in love with the game at that point.”

A brief illness kept Ryder off the court during his junior season. He came back to Colorado in February, wanting to finish his high school basketball journey where it began.

He kept improving with every month, playing solid for the Titans in April, strong for Fairview during the team-camp period in June and like a giant force for the Titans in July.

“He was a beast for us,” Jimenez said. “He was dealing with injuries on the road, and he played through them. He held his own against every big man in the country going to a Power 5 school.”

Colleges have taken notice of the big man’s big growth. Ryder said he has had contact with schools in the West Coast, Pac-12, Atlantic 10, Big Sky and Big West conferences.

But don’t expect Ryder to think he’s arrived. After 6 a.m. workouts with Fairview, Ryder goes to class, then during two open periods in the morning he goes to work on his skills with a trainer. It’s the kind of work ethic members of the blue-collar Titans have been known for as they celebrate their 10th year, but Jimenez says Ryder deserves the credit for the exponential improvements he has made over the past four years.

“He knows what he wants to do, and there’s no stopping him right now,” Jimenez said. “He’s on that track. His mind is right, his body is right. He’s done all the right things. He’s taken the right steps to be that ballplayer at that next level, which is so awesome to see.”