WMSB Exclusive Interview: Julian Boatner (’14)

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Julian Boatner developed into one of the CAA’s deadliest 3-point shooters, finishing 2nd in the CAA in 3-point percentage during his senior year. [photo via Getty Images]

It’s officially basketball season! And if you somehow missed Oliver Tot‘s last-second, game-winning, half-court, three-point shot — we demand you watch it here right now. Or if you simply want to see it again, we suggest you bask in the glory now. We mean it, right now.

To continue celebrating the basketball season, and with your Tribe sitting pretty at 3-2, we decided to treat our readers to yet another exclusive interview! This time, we recruited Tribe alum and 3-point sharpshooter, Julian Boatner. Remember him? We certainly do.

While at William & Mary, Boatner played in 124 games, good enough for fourth most in school history. And even though he finished with a lower points per game average (4.9 points per contest), Boatner proved to be deadly from beyond the arc, finishing his W&M career ranked sixth in 3-point percentage (.383), seventh in 3-pointers made (161) and 13th in 3-pointers made per game (1.3). And in his senior season, Boatner ranked second in the Colonial Athletic Association in 3-pointer shooting at 42.7 percent, which also ranked second for a W&M senior in program history and the sixth best in school history overall.

Nowadays, Boatner is in his second season with Mount St. Mary’s (Maryland) coaching staff.  He joined the Mount after serving the previous two seasons as a graduate manager at Indiana University (he grew up in Bloomington, Indiana). In his first year coaching at the Mount, the Mountaineers advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. And while we wish he could have gone dancin’ with the Tribe, we’re happy he was able to represent the Green and Gold as a coach last year. Roll Tribe Roll!

Time at William & Mary

Why did you choose to attend the College of William & Mary?

“I chose to attend William and Mary because of the comfort I felt with the coaching staff especially Coach Holmes. Coach Holmes and I are both from Bloomington, IN and his dad actually coaches at Bloomington High School South, the rival High School of mine. So I have known their family for a long time. I also felt like the Princeton system they run at WM really fit my game and that I could be successful there. The last reason was because of how good the school is, my parents were very impressed with the degree that I would be able to leave the school with and how much weight it would carry moving forward in my life after basketball.”

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During his time at W&M, Boatner played with several other skilled players, such as Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt. [photo via Getty Images]

Throughout your W&M career, you were known as an absolutely deadly 3-point shooter, finishing 2nd in the CAA in 3-point percentage your senior year (.427) and 6th at W&M all-time (.383). To what do you attribute that tremendous success?

“A lot of my success as a shooter goes to my coaches and to my teammates. My coaches put me in position to be successful and really helped me become a consistent shooter over the course of my 4 years at The College. I worked with Coach Holmes a good amount just to make sure that my mechanics were solid. My teammates being able to find me when I was open and trusting me to knock down shots is another reason for my success. I used to give Brandon [Britt] a hard time our freshman year about how he never kicked the ball out when he drove. I think slowly he finally began to figure it out and our junior/senior years he was finding me a lot more. It also makes my job a lot easier when you have guys like Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt on your team because teams get so locked in on trying to stop them on their drives that it leaves shooters like me open for threes on the perimeter.”

As W&M is known for producing scholar athletes: what did you major in at William & Mary?

“I majored in Kinesiology and minored in Marketing.”

Time at Indiana & “The Mount”

Following graduation, when did you realize you wanted to coach, and what was the road you took prior to catching on as an Assistant Coach at Mount St. Mary’s? 

“Following graduation, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I discussed it a good amount with Coach Holmes and Coach Kimble during that time just to see what they thought about me trying to get into college coaching. They told me how crazy of a business it was and tried to steer me a different direction, but I didn’t listen I just loved being around the game so much. So after I graduated from WM I went on to be a Graduate Assistant at Indiana University. I was there for 2 years and got my Masters in Sports Management/Athletic Administration.

We went on to make it to the first round of the NCAA tournament my 1st year there. My 2nd year we won the Big Ten Regular Season Title and made it to the Sweet 16 beating Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. We had great success while I was at Indiana under Coach Crean. He taught me so much in such a short amount of time and he really got me ready to be a coach at a young age. It was a great learning lesson for me and I got to workout a handful of guys that are playing in the NBA now like Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams, OG Anunoby, and Thomas Bryant.”

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Looking to break into the collegiate coaching ranks, Boatner chose a pretty darn good program to begin his career. [photo via iuhoosiers.com]
In your first year with the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, the team advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. What has the NCAA Tournament experience been like for you, having come so close to dancing as a member of the Tribe, but never making it until your time as a coach?

“It was a surreal moment for me going to the NCAA Tournament my 1st year as an Assistant Coach [at Indiana]. Watching your name come up on Selection Sunday and figuring out where/who you’re going to play is a lot of fun. It’s different when you’re on the coaching side though. When you are a player you get to enjoy the moment and kind of hangout with your teammates the rest of the night. As a coach as soon as our name came up on Selection Sunday we immediately went back to our offices and started watching film to prepare for the opponent. After starting the season 1-11 [at the Mount], the way that Coach Christian was able to bring our team together and keep our focus on winning one game at a time was truly amazing. He never let the team splinter and he kept them locked in on what our goal was for that year.”

What were some things you learned at W&M, both on and off the court (and perhaps from Coach Shaver himself), that have served you well in your role as an Assistant Coach at Mount St. Mary’s?

“I think what I learned from WM off the court is the grind that student athletes go through on a daily basis. Balancing schoolwork and basketball is not easy for everybody and that is something that I have made sure to remember as I move forward in coaching. Everybody learns at different paces. I also learned how important having genuine relationships with your coaches can help you as a player. Coach Kimble is a prime example of this; I would say one of his best attributes, as a coach is his ability to build relationships with his players. Guys begin to trust him early on and it helps them so when things start to get tough in school or basketball you have somebody that you can go and talk to on your staff.

What I learned from Coach Shaver was the level of intensity that needs to be brought to the practice floor on a daily basis. You can feel the energy that he brings to the floor and the passion he has for his players to improve everyday. I also think that he does a great job of getting his players to buy in to whatever roles he needs them to be in order for the team to be successful. Not everyone is going to get to take 15 shots a game, but we never had problems with guys not buying into their roles. With other programs, that level of buy-in can be very difficult.”

As you may have seen in the headlines, W&M grad Sean Sheldon has joined the ranks of recent Tribe basketball players getting into coaching, signing on as a graduate assistant with Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans. If you could, what piece of advice would you provide Sean to guide him in his first year with the program?

“I actually had multiple conversations with Sean leading up to his interviews with Michigan State. After he got the job I just told him that he’s going to get a lot of things thrown at him that he may not know what to do at first but as long as he puts his head down and gets his tasks done he’s going to be okay. I told him that some days it will be very difficult on him, but just to know that in the long run those experiences are going to help him. Sean is a very hard worker and very determined so I have no doubt that he will be a successful GA/Coach. Coach Izzo and Coach Crean come from the same coaching background, so Sean’s GA experience will more than likely be pretty similar to what I experienced. Working for those coaches will get you ready to be a coach and will be a separator when potential employers look at your resume.”

One last question for you, how have you managed to stay connected to William & Mary now that you live (slightly) farther away from the Burg?

“Mostly I keep in touch with the coaching staff to see how everything is going there and just to make sure that I keep the great relationships I have at The College. I get my updates on the athletic programs via social media. Hopefully I can make it back to campus for homecoming, and if not that, the Basketball banquet at the end of the year.”

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