Girls Basketball | Aurora's Ava Ryncarz has become Greenmen's go-to senior leader

·8 min read
Aurora's Ava Ryncarz celebrates a recent win against Kent Roosevelt.
Aurora's Ava Ryncarz celebrates a recent win against Kent Roosevelt.

Basketball coaches dream about having players like Ava Ryncarz — athletes who have a high ceiling both on and off the court.

The Aurora High senior can play any position, has held a variety of roles, and is the consummate program player.

A versatile 5-foot-9 veteran, Ryncarz is a four-year player for the Greenmen who has garnered first-team honors in the Suburban League American Conference in each of the past two years.

Ryncarz was an honorable mention All-NEO-Inland District player in 2020.

Taking on a new role this winter, Ryncarz will likely become one of those rare three-time all-league first team honorees.

Besides having to take on more scoring, rebounding, and ballhandling responsibility with Shyanne Sellers now at the University of Maryland, Ryncarz also shouldered the increased leadership role.

“I believe one of my strengths is being a leader which doesn’t show up in stats, but is very important to me,” said Ryncarz.

“Coming in my freshman year, and being on varsity allowed for me to really grow and learn from the seniors,” she said. “Obviously, then during my sophomore and junior season, I played alongside Shyanne Sellers. This year, I knew going in that I was going to have to step up and I would have a bigger role.

“My goal has really been to just lead by example and mentor these underclassmen, so they can continue to grow and learn,” said Ryncarz. “We have a younger and more inexperienced team this year, so I know that continuing to be a positive and encouraging my teammates is most important as there will be ups and downs.”

Last year, Ryncarz averaged 13.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.

This winter, Ryncarz is at 18.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 thefts and is shooting 82.8% at the free-throw line.

Aurora coach Erika Greenberg loves how Ryncarz has increased her presence in all facets.

“Ava is an excellent leader, she has been pushing our team in a positive direction since her freshman year, and she is an extremely hard worker who has worked hard in the offseason to improve multiple parts of her game,” said Greenberg.

Knowing her role would have to change in so many ways, Ryncarz has seized the opportunity and relished it.

“Specifically, my role on the court coming from freshman year to now has drastically changed,” she said. “As a freshman, I came in off the bench, but I was able to learn and watch. Then into my sophomore year, I knew my role was going to be bigger. I primarily was a shooter, and I really focused on shooting a high percentage which ended up being 46 percent from 3-point range.”

“Going into my junior year, I adapted my game to play bigger and not only to be a shooter, but drive to the hoop and play bigger on defense,” Ryncarz said.

Aurora's Ava Ryncarz drives to the basket during a recent game against Kent Roosevelt.
Aurora's Ava Ryncarz drives to the basket during a recent game against Kent Roosevelt.

“Coming into my senior year, knowing that we would be without Shyanne, I knew I would have to step up and become a bigger rebounding threat and disrupt other teams with my defense. I think I have done a good job at putting all of it together and helping my team win games.”

Without Sellers, it could have been easy for Ryncarz to become a heavy-volume shooter, hoist up 3-pointers and force shots, but she hasn’t done that.

“Ava is very versatile and can play [any position] for us and can score on many different levels,” said Greenberg.

Playing with Sellers and her older sister, Shayla, has helped the growth. Shayla Sellers is playing at Purdue-Fort Wayne.

“I got the opportunity to play with both Shyanne and Shayla, which was really cool since they both are playing at the next level,” said Ryncarz. “Coming into my freshman year, it helped to have them ease me into the high school season. I only had one season with Shayla, but she really impacted me with the way she led the team and kept her composure on the court all of the time, and showed the right way to play team basketball.”

“Shyanne also was someone I enjoyed playing with as she is so talented and having to guard her every day at practice really motivated me to continue to get better,” said Ryncarz.

Even with playing alongside the Sellers sisters, Ryncarz has put up strong numbers in her career. She has never been the go-to player on offense until this winter. but is approaching 700 points and 400 rebounds for her career.

A diverse player, Ryncarz is a guard-forward who can play anywhere on both ends.

“I think my greatest strength is my ability to impact the game in many ways,” she said. “I have established myself as a good shooter, but I have continued to improve my ability to attack the rim. Being able to do both at a high level really opens up my game.”

“I also have always focused on distributing the ball to my teammates,” added Ryncarz. “Playing team basketball helps everyone. If I am able to get my teammates good looks at the hoop, it will not only help them, but it will help me too. I also made it a priority to become a better rebounder and by doing this, it allows the team to control the game more.”

Greenberg likes how Ryncarz takes on challenges and roles.

“Ava has been a great leader and role model within our program,” said Greenberg. “She has taken on a big role since Shyanne graduated and has been our main scorer and rebounder. She really is a great kid.”

Family was a big part of how Ryncarz found hoops.

“My interest definitely started because of my siblings and they both, Olivia Ryncarz and AJ Ryncarz, played basketball when they were younger, so I think being exposed to them playing really made me want to play.”

Aurora's Ava Ryncarz, right, battles for a rebound with Medina Highland's Aleena Vankirk during a recent game.
Aurora's Ava Ryncarz, right, battles for a rebound with Medina Highland's Aleena Vankirk during a recent game.

“I would always want to play against them and be there when they were playing,” she said. “Then once I started to get older and play travel ball, I played with all my friends which made the game so much more fun, and we had a lot of success. All of these things really contributed to me developing a passion for the game.”

“I do have to say that my dad, Adam Ryncarz, also contributed to my interest from a young age,” she said. “He has put in so much time to help me be the player I am today. Whenever I would want to go to the gym to get shots up, he would always make time.”

Although positions in the sport aren’t as defined as they used to be, Ryncarz focuses more on the skillset.

“I really enjoy being able to play all positions on the floor and that is something that is very important as it opens up my game and allows me to do many things,” said Ryncarz. “I do think my natural position is more of being a guard.”

“Growing up, I was always one of the point guards and that allowed me to obtain good ball-handling skills, which I think has really benefited me. Now, I am playing big enough to be a post, but still possess the ability to bring up the ball, which I think is something that makes me special since I have that versatility.”

Ryncarz has also excelled on the softball field for the Greenmen, showing a strong bat for average and with some pop to it.

“Playing softball has been really awesome,” said Ryncarz. “I have been a part of the high school’s varsity team since my freshman year and this past year, I was a starter in center field, and we won a conference title which was huge for us and I was excited to be a part of that.”

“I look forward to playing softball this season as I believe we have a good chance at another good year,” added Ryncarz, who played volleyball in middle school before electing to focus on basketball, softball, and academics.

Basketball will continue to be in her future as well.

“I want to continue to improve and grow my game, and having the chance to play basketball for four more years at John Carroll University is something I really am excited about,” said Ryncarz.

“It gives me more opportunities to be able to play and meet new people,” she added. “I hope to come in my freshman year and make an impact. I have worked super hard to get to this point, so I plan on just enjoying it all and continuing to put in the work.”

Playing at John Carroll will also be a chance for Ryncarz to hone her team skills for another basketball program, and for life beyond.

“Having played basketball since such a young age, I have come to learn how special it is to be a part of a team,” said Ryncarz. “I really have enjoyed my time playing for Aurora. This team is like my second family and everyone supports each other. We have had our ups and downs, but I wouldn’t want to play for any other team.”

“I will definitely miss playing with all these girls next year, but I’m super excited to come back and see the underclassmen continue to ball out.”

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: A four-year letter winner, Ava Ryncarz of Aurora will continue her career at John Carroll

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