07/14/10 — Ryals heads to Winston-Salem State U

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Ryals heads to Winston-Salem State U

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on July 14, 2010 1:46 PM

The message from Winston-Salem State head men's basketball coach Bobby Rollins to Isaac Ryals was simple.

"We want you, and we need you," said Collins to Ryals during a recruiting visit.

Those few words helped lead Ryals to sign a national letter-of-intent to play basketball for Collins beginning this fall.

"They sat me down and said point blank, 'We want you,'" said Ryals. "That meant a lot to me coming from a college head coach."

The former Charles B. Aycock standout had interest from several college teams including Rhode Island, Elon and Savannah State, but chose the Rams because of the team's home-like feel.

"My dad went with me on my official visit and he was amazed at how nice Winston-Salem State was," said Ryals. "He was shocked by the gym and the way everything looked. We were both really blown away."

The on-court product at Winston-Salem State certainly helped sway Ryals as well.

Winston-Salem State finished last season 12-17 overall as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but stepped up to take on traditional powers like Colorado State, Oregon, Maryland and Wake Forest. The Rams will return to the Division II level and rejoin the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association when fall sports begin.

As an incoming freshman, the 2009-10 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference player of the year will join a backcourt that already includes heralded combo guard Marcus Wells.

"Wells is a really good player that was getting looked at by Marquette and a few other big colleges," said Ryals. "I am strictly a point guard, where Wells can play point or two guard. I think we will fit well together."

Coming out of a basketball-rich area like eastern North Carolina should help prepare Ryals for the bright lights on the college hardwood. After suffering through a disappointing season two years ago, Ryals and his Golden Falcon teammates put together back-to-back winning ledgers.

"Playing in some of the atmospheres around here like Southern Wayne, where the fans are right on top of you, I think definitely made me better," Ryals said. "Gyms like Goldsboro, places like that, you have to tune the fans out and focus."

Having the last two years experience of playing along side college prospect Brandon Winford has also helped Ryals refine his game.

"Playing with a guy like Brandon in high school was good for me because it taught me how to work with a post guy," said Ryals. "Brandon is going to be a college player and he is a big talent."

Transitioning from the relatively easy-going life of a high school standout to the rigors of college life is something that Ryals is looking forward to in the fall.

"The biggest thing is just learning how to deal with the classes and the road trips and things like that," said Ryals. "The coaches at Winston-Salem State are going to pair me with an older guy so hopefully I can learn fast."