Sidwell Friends (DC) 2021 guard Ryan Cornish. [Matthew McIntosh, DMVelite]
The 2019-20 season was one of change for Sidwell Friends (DC) 2021 guard Ryan Cornish, who transferred in from Richard Montgomery (Md.) last summer.
The adjustment was smooth, though, as the 6-foot-3, 160-pounder averaged a team-high 16.2 pointers per game to lead the Quakers to a 20-12 record and runner-up finish in the Mid-Atlantic Conference.
I recently caught up with Cornish to discuss quarantine life, his first year at Sidwell, his recruitment, goals and more:
HOW ARE YOU KEEPING YOURSELF BUSY THESE DAYS?
“I’m trying to make sure I work out and get up every day. I’m trying to work out early because I feel like that’s when I’m most productive. They took down [the rims at] our local park, but I found, like, a little elementary school with outdoor hoops so I go there everyday.”
HOW HAS IT BEEN TRYING TO HANDLE SCHOOL?
“It’s been pretty weird. I mean, this morning I had to wake up at 8 o’clock, but I only had to throw on a t-shirt and some shorts and go right to my computer. I mean, of course I want it all to go back [to normal] and I want to be able to play basketball, but I kind of like the online classes - I think it's kind of more convenient.”
HOW WAS THE TRANSITION TO SIDWELL THIS YEAR?
“It was definitely harder, first of all with the academics - Sidwell’s a really hard academic school. So I knew that was going to be hard and I had to prepare myself. Luckily coming in I already had a few friends here: Afamdi Achufusi, Max Freishtat - I’d played AAU ball with them since like third grade, so they helped me adjust. Everything’s going pretty well now, I like it. And on the basketball side, it’s a lot more workouts and a lot more dedication to actually getting better. Other than in-season we’ve got workouts, open gyms, lifts, whereas at RM we had maybe some workouts outside of the in-season, but there's not much they can do.”
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT HOW YOUR SEASON WENT?
“I mean, I’m definitely not satisfied, you know? First thing’s first, I wanted to get that [Mid-Atlantic Conference] championship and I feel like we should have got that. We had the chance to beat St. Andrew’s [in MAC Final] and then later on Wilson [in the DCSAA playoffs] and I don’t know, I’m just a little disappointed in that, but it’s more fuel to the fire. And then personally, I felt like I played pretty well. I feel like I deserved a few more accolades, but I don’t really care about that. As long as my team’s winning, that’s all I care about.”
DID YOU STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR OLD TEAMMATES DURING THEIR PLAYOFF RUN? [Richard Montgomery reached the Maryland 4A semifinals before the season was stopped.]
“Oh yeah, for sure, I’m still close with all of them. I actually went to the regional game that they won - I’m still close with all those guys. I think they’ve kind of given up their hopes [of finishing it]; I think they’re disappointed. I mean, I feel bad for them, honestly. I couldn’t imagine having a season ending without losing or winning a championship, so neither one of those? I can’t imagine.”
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE STRENGTHS OF YOUR GAME?
“I think my best strength is my 3-point shooting. I think I take into account my range, and my percentages were pretty high this year. And I think something that’s been coming up is my accountability and my leadership. I feel like I’ve been more vocal on the court, and I’ve been trying to focus on that. I think I’ve taken my defense to another level, but I still want to take another step up to be, like, an elite defender, which Coach [Eric] Singletary’s really helping me out on. I think I’m really good at taking charges, too - that’s one of my more specific areas on defense where I take pride in.”
HAS THAT ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE?
“I don’t really know; I think taking charges came out of nowhere during high school, in more, like, serious basketball. I mean, I still take charges in AAU, but I feel like in high school with the stakes higher, I’m just more passionate about the game and more dedicated to winning, and I do whatever my team needs me to do.”
HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF NO TRAVEL BALL?
“I just want a chance to play in front of [college] coaches. I mean, it’s really disappointing to have my last AAU season taken away, but hopefully something will happen with that and it'll be made up but I don’t know. First of all I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I already had, so I can’t really say I’m not lucky or I’m not fortunate. I’ve had a lot of chances in my life, but [it’s tough].”
HOW IS YOUR RECRUITMENT GOING?
“I’ve been talking to a lot of the Patriot [League] schools and a bunch of the Ivy [League] schools. Also, with this new, like, stuff where they’re talking about making the tests optional to get into school so I don’t know if the ACT or SAT stuff matters now going forward. But the few schools are Yale and Lafayette are heavily interested - Army reached out today. Mainly the Patriot and Ivy Leagues have been reaching out.”
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A SCHOOL?
“I want to be able to play basketball seriously, of course. I want a good program that develops players and looks forward to helping them on the court and off the court. And then a good school with academics, too.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OFF THE COURT?
“I like hanging out with my family and playing a bunch of family games. I play a bunch of video games; I mean I like 2K.”
WHO IS YOUR TEAM ON THERE?
“The Trailblazers - I like Dame [Lillard]. In real life I like the Wizards but I can’t play with John Wall because he’s hurt. John Wall’s probably one of my favorite players - I mean I don’t play anything like him, but [still].”
DID YOU PLAY ANY OTHER SPORTS GROWING UP?
“I used to swim and I played football for a little bit. Those are like the two other serious ones I used to play, but once high school came I kind of focused on basketball.”
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT BASKETBALL?
“I kind of just love the game, I don’t know. I’ve always been passionate towards it and always wanted to do better and like, outwork the other people. It just came to me.”
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE BASKETBALL MEMORY?
“I’d probably say my buzzer-beater against Gaithersburg [in 2019], that’s been my biggest moment so far. I really enjoyed that one. That was my biggest buzzer-beater shot ever - I mean, it was kind of like a lay-up/floater but it was the biggest game of the season. It’s every kid’s dream.”