After a productive season with IMG Academy (FL), Anquan Boldin, Jr. remains one of the more intriguing unsigned seniors on the market. Boldin, Jr. grew up playing football before pursuing a basketball career prior to high school. An explosive 6’5”+ wing, Boldin, Jr. continues to make strides as an all-around player who can impact the game on both ends and is eager to prove doubters wrong at the next level.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Boldin, Jr. discussed his basketball journey, the latest with his recruitment, hobbies off the court, what he’s learned from his legendary father, how his game has developed with IMG, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect, Anquan Boldin, Jr. from Delray Beach, Florida:
Pro Insight: Talk about your basketball journey.
Anquan Boldin, Jr: So, I actually started off playing football first since my dad played football and I wanted to be just like him. I played football up until about 6th grade, then I wanted to try out basketball and ended up never going back [to football]. I didn’t really start taking basketball seriously until about 8th grade. I played for local schools, but in my junior year, Coach Pope invited me to come to IMG and I jumped at the opportunity.
PI: What positions did you play in football?
ABJ: I was a wide receiver and safety. I played a little part-time QB, as well.
PI: Which of those positions were you best at?
ABJ: Definitely wide receiver — I was nice as a receiver, for sure.
PI: How has your game grown since you’ve been with IMG?
ABJ: This past season was great. Coach [Jim] Carr was my coach and we had a pretty good season. He just allowed me to play free and I feel like I got a lot better at ball handling. I feel like one of my main flaws was jump shooting, so I feel like I’m a much better shooter now than I was last year. And I’m a much better facilitator, too.
PI: What have you been doing to improve as a jump shooter?
ABJ: Really just getting the reps in before and after practice. Making it a habit and getting consistent with my shot.
PI: What were some of your goals coming into this past season with IMG?
ABJ: Our goal as a team was to win nationals, but we fell short. We made it to the Elite 8. But my goal overall was to just become a more confident player and stand out. I really feel like I accomplished that.
PI: How do you feel like you stood out?
ABJ: I really just feel like bringing energy every single day. I worked on being consistent and having a stretch of great days. Just working hard.
PI: How would you describe your game — what are your strengths?
ABJ: I would say I’m an athletic guard who can facilitate and play defense really well.
PI: What are some improvement areas?
ABJ: Right now I’m working on my ball handling and using my off hand. I feel like those are two things you can always work on.
PI: Any underrated aspects of your game?
ABJ: I feel like right now not everyone knows I’m a good shooter. Towards the end of the season I displayed that, but my underrated ability is that I can shoot the ball well.
PI: What would you say are some of your short term goals?
ABJ: Short term, I want to continue building up confidence and getting to be a better overall player before getting to college.
PI: How about long term?
ABJ: I want to play professionally. That’s always been a goal of mine.
PI: Have you always had a ton of confidence or has it gradually improved over time?
ABJ: I feel like the better players I play, the more confidence I get. Confidence was a struggle for me in high school — I wasn't shooting the ball and felt uncomfortable in certain positions. But as I grew as a person and player I feel like the confidence grew more.
PI: When did things click into place for you that way?
ABJ: I’d probably say after my junior year, that AAU season. That was my first time ever playing travel ball and my coach just let me be free, let me rock. I saw myself improve and I was really putting the work in every single morning/night. So I feel like there was a jump in my game.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
ABJ: I’ve been hearing from North Carolina A&T, St. John’s, UNC-Asheville, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Carolina, UNC-Greensboro, Wright State, and FAU.
PI: Any programs you’d love to hear from?
ABJ: I’d love to hear from Florida State. That’s a great school. Both of my parents went there, my dad played football there. And I’ve been to the campus a few times so I think it’d be cool to go there.
PI: Is that your dream school?
PI: What are you looking for in a college program?
ABJ: I would want a family beyond basketball, just a place to grow as a person and basketball player. Somewhere that would help me develop my game and play professionally when it’s all said and done.
PI: When are you hoping to make a decision?
ABJ: Probably late April or early May.
PI: Have you taken any official visits?
ABJ: I took a visit to FAU a while ago, but I’m trying to set up more visits.
PI: Which school has stayed on you the hardest?
ABJ: I’d say either UNC Greensboro or Wright State.
PI: How do you see your role at the next level?
ABJ: I feel like I could be that three-level scorer that also does the dirty work like getting rebounds and playing great defense. I’m just a do-it-all type of player.
PI: Any players you like to watch or model your game after?
ABJ: Yeah, I’d say Ja Morant, Anthony Edwards and Derrick Rose back when he was in Chicago.
PI: What do you like about those players?
ABJ: They’re just athletic guards who get out in transition. Anthony Edwards can shoot as well, so that’s who I model my game after. He can do both.
PI: You’re pretty bouncy yourself — when was your first in-game dunk?
ABJ: My first in-game dunk was in a little fall league game and it was actually on three people. The guard was dribbling up the court and I ran to the wing. No one was really guarding me so I got the ball, closed my eyes and went up for it and there happened to be three people there [laughs].
PI: Have you caught more than 10 bodies in your career?
ABJ: Definitely more than 10 [laughs].
PI: Have you ever met or worked out with NBA guys?
ABJ: I’ve met LeBron before and I worked out with some college players.
PI: What made you fall in love with basketball?
ABJ: So when LeBron [James] was playing for the Miami Heat my dad took me to one of the Finals games against the OKC Thunder. He was one of my favorite players at the time and seeing him win a championship kinda lit a spark in me at the time and I knew this is what I wanted to do.
PI: With your dad being a former high-level professional athlete — what are some things he’s instilled in you over the years?
ABJ: Definitely a good work ethic and being consistent. To just keep working even when the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to come out to your liking. I got to grow up with him being in the facilities. I used to go with him every Saturday before a game or during winter break I’d usually go over there. I’d see him putting in countless hours even though he already made it to the league, like he was working like he was trying to get into the league. I met a lot of great people who also have a great work ethic and it just shows you what a great work ethic can do for you.
PI: Any other specific examples that come to mind?
ABJ: Yeah I’d say Ray Lewis [Baltimore Ravens], he was definitely a good example to follow. He’d always be in the locker room talking to me — he’s a good dude and he’d always tell me, ‘keep putting the work in and it will come to you’.
PI: Can you beat your dad in one-on-one?
ABJ: I think I can now [smiles]. I haven’t played him in one-on-one for a while, he used to beat me when I was younger but I think I got him now. He’s a little bit older and I’m a little better so I think I got him [laughs].
PI: Any unique hobbies outside of basketball?
ABJ: I like to fish and play video games on the side.
PI: What type of fishing?
ABJ: Deep sea fishing or in a lake — both.
PI: What video games are you playing?
ABJ: Madden, for sure, and then probably Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Those are my three favorite games.
PI: What’s your favorite team to play with on Madden?
ABJ: The Bills. They’re a good team to play with, but they’re not my favorite team.
PI: Who is your favorite team?
ABJ: The Ravens, for sure. I like Lamar Jackson.
PI: Any books, movies or TV shows you’re into?
ABJ: I’d probably say BMF and Breaking Bad. For books, I like the Harry Potter series, I used to read those. Right now I like self-improvement books, stuff like that. Not as much fiction, anymore.
PI: What house would you be sorted into in Harry Potter?
ABJ: I’d probably say Gryffindor.
PI: What animal would your patronus be?
ABJ: I don’t know, probably a snake [laughs].
PI: What would be a hashtag to describe you? Why?
ABJ: I’d say #electric. I feel like all of the plays I make are electric, especially with my athleticism. I can take a team that doesn’t have a lot of energy and help bring the energy up in the building. Definitely would say #electric.
PI: Do you feel like you’ve been overlooked as a player? Why?
ABJ: Yeah, I definitely feel like I’ve been underrated most of my basketball career. I feel like that helps me put a chip on my shoulder. I don’t know why to be honest, but I’m not really too worried about it because it helps me play with a chip on my shoulder.
PI: How do you manage internal/external expectations?
ABJ: I feel like I always meet them, but I don’t really worry about the expectations. I just go out there and do me.
PI: Is there a defining moment or story in your life that has helped shape you into who you are today?
ABJ: There was a game my junior year and I didn’t really play well, I was worried about too much stuff off the court. So when I got home my mom took me on a drive and we just talked for hours. She told me to not worry about stuff off the court. I was really worried about being compared to my dad and stuff like that since he played football. Just living up to that. She told me to not worry about all of that and after that talk I feel like my game just improved and everything kinda clicked. I was able to let go, play more free and not worry about what the other people thought.
PI: What motivates you?
ABJ: The fact that I’ve been overlooked, but I’ve always wanted to be better than my dad. Not in a cocky way or anything like that, but I’ve always wanted to be better than him. He set the standard and I’m trying to be better than that every single day.
PI: If you could go to dinner with anyone past or present, who would that be, and why?
ABJ: That’s a tough question, but I’d say the first person would be LeBron and the second would probably be Tupac. I feel like those two. I’d have a lot of questions to ask LeBron, but he really helped me get into basketball. I’ve got to meet him, but I’ve never been able to sit down and talk with him. That’d be a really cool experience. Tupac died before I was born, but he’s one of the greatest artists and I’d really want to pick his brain.
PI: Ideally, five years from now, where do you see yourself?
ABJ: Five years from now I see myself either playing in college or professionally and having fun, doing what I love. Having the people that I love by me and surrounding me.