From ‘knucklehead’ to team leader

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

A blink of an eye might not be the best way to describe Lawrence Borha’s tenure with the Runnin’ Utes basketball team, but for him, it’s seemed pretty quick.

“I’ve been here all four years,” Borha said. “It’s going past fast, you know what I mean? God, it seems like yesterday I was a freshman, last year it seemed like I was a freshman, being that I was a junior in a new program, a new system. It just felt brand new and now that I’m almost done, it’s just like “Dang, time was flying.'”

Hailing from Moorpark, Calif., but living in Staten Island, N.Y. for most of his life, Borha traveled approximately 1,000 miles on a recruiting trip his senior year of high school to check out the U. When he got here, the team greeted him as if he were already a member of the team and he signed a letter of intent before he hopped back on the plane to California.

One positive characteristic of joining the U was having a quiet place to focus on his schoolwork. Borha, who is more commonly known simply as L.B. to coaches and teammates, didn’t take that seriously his first two years on the team and was a bit of a “knucklehead,” as he put it. It wasn’t until head coach Jim Boylen entered the program that Borha decided to shape up. Now he is one of the Utes’ leading players on and off the court.

“When I got here, him and I banged heads a little bit,” Boylen said. “I thought he needed to clean up his act on and off the floor. I thought he needed to improve his focus and start getting better.”

Borha basically grew up on a basketball team, as he was one of 11 kids. Having a big family taught him to always stick with things he was interested in, even though he might not get everything he wanted. He said that he had his older brothers to look up to, and they would push him to do a lot for himself. He said he’s “fortunate” to have a big family for that reason.

The game of basketball didn’t come until relatively later in his life. At 12 years old, Borha had never touched a basketball, and was called up by his godbrother to shoot some hoops. It’s cliché, but from that moment on he was playing basketball every day.

“(My godbrother) just started playing with me and from that day I just got better and better,” Borha said. “I did pick it up kind of fast and I liked it. That was the best thing about it. I liked the sport so I just kept on doing it.”

Borha played basketball in Staten Island at Ralph McKee Career and Technical Education High School his freshman through junior years, before transferring to Stoneridge Prep school in California his senior year.

He recorded his best season in high school in his sophomore year, during which he put up 31 points per game to win the New York City scoring title. He also averaged 13 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, which earned him the honor of Staten Island’s Player of the Year award.

He said that basketball in California was much more competitive than in Staten Island. Borha represented Ralph McKee with pride his senior year in Moorpark, Calif. by averaging 29 points, six boards and 7.5 assists per game. He gained leadership experience early by leading his team to a 14-2 record.

Borha, and former foe Kyle McAlarney out of Notre Dame, are the pride of Staten Island right now. McAlarney is having a great season so far for the Fighting Irish, and Borha wasn’t shy to give him props for that.

“He’s really doing really good right now,” Borha said. “I don’t know his numbers, but I watched him play North Carolina, put up 39 points on them, so he’s doing a lot for Staten Island right now.”

When asked if he was getting any recognition in Staten Island he said, “The last thing I heard was that they put us in the paper for losing to a D-II team.”

Borha shined in high school and was expected to shine at the U, but as he said before, he didn’t break out of his shell until Boylen showed up.

Last season he set new season total career highs in scoring (252), rebounds (86), assists (70) and steals (23).

“I did everything a lot different before coach Boylen got here,” Borha said. “To come in a new program is hard and to switch everything you’ve done, to learn everything new. I learned to listen to coach Boylen, I know he’s got the best interest in the team.”

Now in his senior year with the Utes, Borha has become a member of a “committee of leaders” on the Utes’ basketball program. He said he is excited about where the team is headed this season and thinks they are clicking on the court. Borha said the reason they are clicking so well this season is because of the leadership that Tyler Kepkay, Luke Nevill, Shaun Green and he bring to the floor.

“(We) talk to the younger guys, get to know them, take them out and all of (the team) hangs out together,” Borha said.

The sports management major would like to play ball after he graduates from the U. If he doesn’t get that opportunity, he plans on attending graduate school and becoming a sports agent.

“I hope he gets to play,” Boylen said. “I keep telling (him) he’s gotta keep getting better so he can play for a couple years. There’s opportunities for guys out there to play and I hope he gets one.”

Borha has come a long way from an unmotivated player his first two years with the Utes to a leader and someone who can make an impact on and off the court. He’s what Boylen calls a “warrior” and it shows game in and game out.

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Tyler Cobb

Lawrence Borha gets high fives from his teammates during the introduction of the starting lineups. This is Borha?s fourth season playing at Utah and to him it feels like only yesterday that he was a freshman.

Erik Daenitz

Lawrence Borha has performed better on and off the court under second year coach Jim Boylen. Borha has earned a spot in the teams committee of leaders this season.