Former East standout DeVince Boykins trying to make a name at Marshall
Former East Rutherford basketball standout DeVince Boykins is now hitting the hardwood for the Thundering Herd of Marshall. After redshirting last year, Boykins is seeing significant minutes at guard this season and he is happy to be playing basketball again.
“Redshirting was hard,” Boykins said. “Especially coming from high school where I played all the time, it was a tough adjustment.”
Even so, Boykins admits that his redshirt season was beneficial in becoming a more complete player.
“Even though it was hard not getting to play, sitting out last year gave me some time to work on a few things to be ready for this season,” he said. “I really worked on my jump shot a lot and also my defense. I realized that playing defense was what earns playing time in college. You can be a great scorer, but if you don’t play defense, you won’t be on the court.”
As tipoff of the 2012-13 season approached, Boykins was eager to take the court for Marshall. An injury sidelined him for the first eight games of the year. As a result, Boykins had to wait a little longer to make his collegiate debut.
“The injury was very frustrating,” Boykins said. “I was on a roll and my confidence level was really high. When I got hurt it brought me down a little, but my teammates and the coaching staff really kept me encouraged. That allowed me to maintain confidence so when I did get on the court, I could have an impact.”
While that impact has not shown up on the scoreboard so far this season, as he is only averaging 0.8 points per game, Boykins is helping his team in other areas.
“It’s all about defense and conditioning right now,” said Boykins. “If I can focus on those things, I will get more playing time and the points will come.”
The minutes are already there. As of Jan. 28, Boykins is averaging approximately 15 minutes per game, a fact that surprises even him.
“I didn’t expect to be playing this much,” said Boykins. “Fifteen minutes a game is pretty good for a redshirt freshman coming off the bench. If I keep working hard and improving, I think my minutes will go up.”
That hard work is not only limited to this season though, as Boykins had to adjust to the rigors of college basketball.
“There are not many similarities between high school ball and college ball,” he said. “Everybody is so much faster and stronger here and they can play good defense. You have to learn to play faster and then slow down in certain situations. Changing speeds is one of the biggest things I had to get used to in college ball.”
One aspect of basketball that translates well from high school to college is enthusiasm for the game. Boykins says he learned this trait from his former coach, Brad LeVine.
“Coach Levine is a very enthusiastic coach and so is coach (Tom) Herrion,” Boykins said. “I was already used to that style of coaching and that really helped with the transition.”
For Levine, however, the skills learned off the court are the ones that have helped Boykins the most.
“I want people to know one thing about DeVince Boykins. He is a much better man than he is a basketball player,” Levine said. “And he is a darn good basketball player. He works hard, makes good grades, and is simply one of the nicest people you would ever hope to meet. Those are the things that are going to take DeVince anywhere he wants to go in life, more so than what he does on the basketball court.”
Another adjustment Boykins had to make was playing a single position, shooting guard.
“In high school, I played all the positions, all over the floor,” Boykins said. “It was an adjustment to be locked into one position, but not too bad. I just have a different role here than I did in high school. Now, I just look to be a slasher, use my athletic ability, play good defense, and knock down the open shot when the ball is swung to me. I hope to expand my game in the future, but for now I’m comfortable with the role I have.”
Boykins has fulfilled that role quite well this season, but the game that is foremost in his mind is Marshall’s 69-63 win over Coppin State on Dec. 18. In that contest, Boykins garnered three points, one steal, one rebound and a block in 11 minutes of action.
“That’s probably the most memorable game I’ve had so far,” he said. “I hit a three pointer and I did a lot of other things to help the team win the game. That was really the first extended minutes I got to play in college. It was a special experience.”
While Boykins is helping his current team win, he still has time to keep a close eye on the East Rutherford Cavaliers.
“I text my brother DeVonte after every game,” DeVince Boykins said. “They (East Rutherford) have a really good team this year and a great record, so I’m expecting big things from them.”
When he is not focused on Thundering Herd or Cavalier basketball, Boykins turns his attention to the classroom.
“My classes are going well and I’m getting into my business management classes for my major,” DeVince said. “I’m really enjoying those and I’m making good grades. I am looking forward to a challenging semester.”
Aside from the classroom, Boykins long term goals are equally as challenging and he has set them with his hometown fans in mind.
“My goal is to be a starter next year and for my scoring to go up,” he said. “Eventually I want to be one of the best players in Conference USA. If I continue to work hard and focus, I think I can get there. Not just for me though. I want people back home to be able to see the same DeVince Boykins that they saw in high school. They deserve it and I’m going to do my best to make it happen.”