|“||When it comes to shooting, he ... really hates to lose.||”|
—Shoichi Imayoshi, about Sakurai
Ryō Sakurai (桜井 良 Sakurai Ryō) is Tōō Academy's first-year shooting guard.
Sakurai has short, light brown hair and brown eyes. Most of the time, he holds himself diffidently, hunching his shoulders and often clutching onto something nervously. His posture becomes more confident while he is playing. Like Hyūga, he has a clutch personality, indicated by his signature pout. During games, he wears the Tōō jersey with the number 9.
Sakurai is a delusional self-blamer. He apologizes profusely for anything and everything, and often will not stop until someone manages to calm him down. Even when he shoots his three-pointers, he whispers sorry. Sakurai has gone so far as to apologize for being alive, causing Imayoshi to coin him Tōō's kamikaze captain.
As a result of his personality, Sakurai is easily flustered and allows himself to be bullied, usually by Aomine, who often steals his bento or forces Sakurai to bring food for him (Aomine later names Sakurai as the teammate he is probably closest to due to his good bentos). Due to his sensitivity, Sakurai is also unusually observant of the moods of the people around him.
While his teammates put up with his overly apologetic nature, Sakurai's personality annoys some of his opponents, namely Hyūga, who nicknames him the apologetic mushroom.
Like Hyūga, Sakurai has a clutch personality, which first reveals itself during the first round of the Winter Cup. He switches to this personality whenever there is competitive outside shooting involved, be it while he is playing or watching a game. In this state, Sakurai is competitive, aggressive and arrogant, going as far as to tell Hyūga that he is going to win, because he is obviously better. According to Imayoshi, this personality manifests itself because Sakurai takes pride in his ability as a shooting guard and hates losing in this respect.
Towards the end of the series, Sakurai slowly loses his characteristic stutter and his habit of apologizing.
Sakurai is first seen at Tōō's training. Imayoshi asks Sakurai why Aomine isn't present, because they are in the same class. Sakurai apologizes and says that he tried to stop him, but failed. He apologizes again for being alive, to which Imayoshi reacts with shock. Sakurai continues apologizing and degrading himself, while Imayoshi keeps saying that it's okay. In the bloopers, he did the same thing, to the point Imayoshi finds annoying, and that Sakurai nodded the ball right into Imayoshi, knocking him out accidentally.
Sakurai is a starter in their first match of the Winter Cup, against Seirin. When Seirin gains the ball and tries to grab the first point, the pressure defense of Tōō leads to Sakurai being able to steal the ball from a bounce pass from Izuki. He dribbles to the other side of the court and pulls up for his quick release three pointer, with Hyūga unable to block him. But instead of shooting, he passes to Aomine instead, giving an assist for Aomine's alley-oop.
Sakurai is later able to score a three pointer from Wakamatsu's rebound.
After Seirin's time-out, Hyūga gets the ball. Sakurai thinks by himself that he's a dangerous shooter but that it's okay because he's standing pretty far. Hyūga asks him if he's sure not to guard so tight. He quickly takes a step away from the basket, jumps and scores a three-pointer. Sakurai is amazed by the speed of his move. Hyūga approaches him and tells him that not only the freshmen have improved.
After Hyūga scores again with his Barrier Jumper, Susa asks Sakurai if he needs help guarding him. Sakurai says that he's fine taking care of him on his own, which surprises Susa. Sakurai receives the ball and is marked by Hyūga. Sakurai is stuck and Susa comes to his aid, but Sakurai refuses and shoots with his quick-release shot, but this time it is way faster than normal, causing Hyūga to think that it'll go out for sure. But against all odds, the shot goes in. Sakurai turns to Hyūga and arrogantly says that he'll win against him, just because he's better. Imayoshi comments that Sakurai changes when he absolutely doesn't want to lose, because he hates losing. Sakurai's arrogance annoys Hyūga a lot and both players counter each other again and again with their respective shots. Nearing the end of the first quarter, Sakurai makes another shot and Tōō outruns Seirin with three points. After Kuroko's action, Hyūga responds and ties the score.
Sakurai is known for his quick-release three-pointers. This is just his regular shot (that is extremely accurate), but releases the ball very quick, throwing his defense off balance. This gives him a great advantage, because the defense has a hard time blocking it because it is so quick (a normal shot would always be blocked, with his posture). When Sakurai starts to behave differently, in a way similar to Hyūga's clutch ability, Sakurai's shot gets quicker and better.
- I'll be the one to win, 'cause I'm better, hmph! (to Junpei Hyūga)
- On the first character poll, Sakurai ranked 14th, with 363 votes. On the second poll, he ranked 22nd, with 157 votes.
- According to the CHARACTERS BIBLE:
- His motto is "Don’t do bad things to people that have been done to you".
- His favorite food is Loquat.
- His hobby is drawing manga.
- His specialty is making character bento.
- According to the official KUROFES:
- His school committee is physical education.
- His best subject is art.
- His family consists of his father and mother.
- He dislikes quarrels.
- His type of girl is a drifter type of girl.
- His hobby is penning manga.
- His best basketball move is three pointers.
- He started playing basketball as he read manga related to basketball and thought it was cool.
- He has his eyes on Hyūga.
- His special move is the quick release shot.
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 39, page 12
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 115, page 13
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 117, page 15
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 118, page 9
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 67, page 9
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 115, page 11
- Kuroko no Basuke chapter 64, page 12
|Players||Daiki Aomine • Ryō Sakurai • Kōsuke Wakamatsu|
|Former players||Shoichi Imayoshi • Yoshinori Susa|
|Staff||Katsunori Harasawa (head coach) • Satsuki Momoi (manager)|