Boykin Gets Full Package With K Visit

Until Friday night Jamal Boykin had never met his future college coach, despite committing to Duke in July. However, the 6-foot-7 power forward had a chance to host head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant Steve Wojciechowski for an in-home visit that lasted nearly three hours. On Sunday night Boykin offered TDD a look inside the visit.

"It was a really big deal around here," said Jamal Boykin of Krzyzewski's visit. "We were in practice when he got here, but I had a chance to go over and shake his hand. You could definitely tell he was in the room, but he helped me get used to him quickly. I mean he's going to be my coach, so I had to separate the celebrity from the man and get comfortable with him."

After practice concluded it was time for Krzyzewski to sit down with his third commitment from the senior class and begin the process of converting Boykin from a high school standout to a member of the Duke family.

"We watched a video and talked about a lot of issues. I was really impressed with the way they develop a customized plan for each player. He showed me a few of the current players' daily schedules and no two of them were the same. I mean some had more time in study hall, where others had earlier class times. I really appreciate that since no two people are the same, no one schedule can fit everyone's needs."

Throughout the entire meeting the theme of each player's individuality remained constant as the coaches cited past examples for future teams.

"When you look at their recruiting process, they are really trying to bring in four post players with me, Josh, Eric, and Jon Brockman. Some people say it'll cause problems, but you have to remember that everyone has their own path. He told me that Elton Brand and Shane Battier came in with the same class. Elton took two years to become the National Player of the Year and a lottery pick, but it took Shane four years to become Player of the Year and a lottery pick. That's similar to what could happen in this class."

"The important thing is that you can't compare your path to someone else's because no two people are the same."

Many analysts believe Boykin is more likely to go the route of Battier than Brand in terms of time in Durham, and that's just fine with him.

"The college game is so special, and while I want to play in the NBA one day, I just want to use every day there to get as much out of the experience as possible. I think four years will go by too fast, if anything."

That's probably true if the 225-pounder is going to accomplish all the goals he's set out for himself and his team.

"As an individual I just want to get better every year I'm there, and I want to help my team win as many games as possible. I'd love to win a title each year, but that's just me. I'm like that with every team. Every year in high school I've wanted to win a state and city title, and though it hasn't always happen, that's the goal. I'd love to go undefeated, because I don't think my teams should have to lose."

While having goals is certainly something that Krzyzewski appreciates, Boykin knows to earn his keep in playing time at Duke means proving himself day in and day out in practice.

"At Duke you just have to earn everything. Now that I'm a Duke player I have much higher expectations from people here and of myself. I mean in everything we do I always feel obligated to lead. If it's sprints I need to be the first one over the line, if it's distance running I need to run a mile in under 5:45, because that's what I have to do at Duke."

And what else will he have to do once he arrives in Durham?

"Coach wants me to concentrate on playing both the four and three equally. I've really been working on my three game, but he says to devote time to both, because that will make me more of a complete player. That's no problem as far as I'm concerned, because you can't argue with the man's track record."

Before committing to Duke, Boykin had mentioned that it would take a special situation for him to consider going across the country for school, and though he found it there are still some challenges that he'll have to face both on and off the court next fall.

"On the court it'll be different going to a team where I don't have a specific role defined, but that's something that will be built and developed over the course of my career. Off the court I guess the weather will be different, and then there's the challenge of the academic load at a place like Duke. Not many kids from around here get a chance to go to place like that, so I know I've got to work hard to improve myself on and off the court. It's important to be able to excel in the classroom there."

So with not much known about Duke in the Los Angeles area, you'd think that Krzyzewski's flirtation with the Lakers would generate some hostile reactions after the decision.

"Not at all, in fact when I went to the football game after the visit most of the crowd started chanting Duke, Duke, Duke for me. It was a really big deal to have someone like Coach K in the gym at Fairfax High.

"It's a humbling thought to know that I'll be part of something that can draw a reaction like that anywhere in the country. It's also important that I remember everything that got me here."

And that includes one of his family members who spent the better half of Jamal's youth driving him to be his best.

"My brother plays for Northern Arizona right now, and he's a great player. But he didn't have the same opportunities that I have gotten when it comes to schools. I wouldn't have this chance without him, so I'm going to try and wear his number 41 when I get to Duke. That's his number and it's a fitting tribute I think. However, if that's not available I guess I can try to get 34."

Why number 34?

"Well 31, 32, 33, and 35 are retired. It's not a bad goal to complete the series."


Blue Devil Digest Top Stories