It’s the ultimate compliment.
“He made players around him better.”
That was how Daniel Boone coach Ryan Arnold described Trailblazers senior Ryan Gaitor.
Scoring 17.9 points per game and dishing out 4.0 assists, Gaitor was a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court.
“Ryan is an all-around good player,” Arnold said. “He can score from the perimeter, drive into the paint and finish strong to the basket, is a good rebounder and defender, and has that knack for stealing the ball.”
With all of those attributes, Gaitor was a lock to be the Times-News Northeast Tennessee boys player of the year.
Gaitor’s season produced many superlatives. He was named the most valuable player of the Alpha Natural Resources Classic at Virginia-Wise and finished the season as the Big 8 Conference player of the year.
“There are a lot of great players in Northeast Tennessee,” Arnold said. “Because of his all- around game, Ryan certainly should be ranked as one of them.”
His knack for scoring created problems for opposing teams. If teams didn’t concentrate on him, he could pile up the numbers.
Three times this past season Gaitor tallied more than 30 points in a game.
“When he drove into the lane, he drew defenders to him,” Arnold said. “Once he saw that, he’d find the open man and pass the ball. I think that’s what made him so dangerous.”
Amassing more than 1,000 career points, Gaitor has come a long way since his freshman season.
“Ryan was a four-year starter for us,” Arnold noted. “And he matured so much over that time.
“He led us in practice as well as in the games. What struck me about him was as talented a scorer as he was, he was very unselfish.”
Success at the next level should not be a problem for Gaitor, according to Arnold.
“He’ll be a true point guard in college,” Arnold said. “With his ability to pass the ball and how he can run a team, I think any college would be glad to have him on the floor.
“There’s no question he will continue to be successful,” his coach added. “Ryan Gaitor is a true basketball player.”