Boykins commits to Georgia Southern
Another East Rutherford Cavalier has committed to play Division I college basketball. Senior point guard Devonte Boykins made his verbal commitment to Georgia Southern Monday night to become an Eagle in 2014.
Despite being largely unfamiliar with the school at the start of the recruitment process, Boykins saw enough in two visits to the campus to make Georgia Southern his college destination.
"I didn't know much about the school when I first went down there, but when I got there they really made me feel welcome," Boykins said. "I got along with the players well and the coaching staff made it seem like they really needed me."
The Boykins family is oddly familiar with the coaching staff considering that Georgia Southern head coach Mark Byington recruited Devonte's older brother Devince while Byington was a coach at College of Charleston.
Even more ironic, assistant coach Larry Dixon was a college roommate and teammate of Robert Boykins, Devonte's father, while they were both at Johnson C. Smith.
And another Eagles assistant, Randy Peele, recruited Robert when he was in high school while Peele was at Winthrop University.
"I felt like he would be in good hands and in a good program," Robert Boykins said. "My wife loved the school, I loved the school and we felt like the coaches would take care of him. That's what it's all about."
The coaching staff at Georgia Southern, who are moving to the Sun Belt Conference from the Southern Conference in 2014, wooed Devonte and made him feel like a valuable asset and its top target.
"They kept telling me on the phone that I was their guy, then I went in the meeting room and saw my name at the top of their board and it made me feel real good," Devonte said.
"I feel like he can go there and be a star," Robert Boykins said. "The coach wants him to come in as a feshman and be a starter. They said he was their man."
Devonte, who averaged, 12.2 points, four assists and 4.5 rebounds per game as a junior, chose the Eagles over the like of UNC Wilmington, Furman and his brother's current program, Marshall.
"It would have been nice to see them play together for two years, but it's time for him to step out and do his own thing," Robert said of his son not choosing the Thundering Herd. "The boys have been talking about it though, DeVonte asked the coaches to put Marshall on the schedule."
East Rutherford head basketball Brad Levine is proud to see another Cavalier product make it to the next level.
"He comes from a good breed and a good family," Levine said. "For him to be a contributer as a freshman on a state championship team and then watch him flourish for two years, the sky is the limit."
Devonte suffered a serious knee injury in the summer of 2012, but fought back and made it back to the bench for his junior season and still earned All-County and All-Conference honors.
"It was like an electric cord being pulled out of the wall," Levine said of Devonte's injury. "But he has the attitude to fight and he was back on the floor in six months. He had to battle through it. It was tough for me and for his dad, but he was the one that had to battle through it."
Devonte, who boasts a GPA over 4.0 and ranks among the top 10 in his class, can put the recruitment trail behind him and focus on his senior season.
"Now I can just go play my game," Devonte said.
But he can't help but look forward to the future.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge, I like a challenge," he said. "I just want to bring intensity and help my team get wins."
The pride is easily felt in the East Rutherford gym. Robert Boykins shows off photoshopped images of Devonte in front of a Georgia Southern banner while Levine chats with a Georgia Southern assistant about the school's plans for his star point guard.
And after all of Devonte's hard work on and off the court, there's no question that he's earned the right to play Division I basketball.
"Devonte really is the total package," Levine said. "It's an honor to coach a kid like him. Everything he gets, he deserves."