Kenny Boynton: Quiet Leadership

Senior shooting guard Kenny Boynton came to Florida as a five star basketball player out of American Heritage high school in Plantation, Florida. He was a member of a small two man class in 2009 which included power forward Erik Murphy. A can’t miss prospect, Boynton was considered a potential “one and done” meaning he’d likely play one season before bolting for the NBA. That didn’t happen.

In fact, not only did he not leave after his freshman season, he didn’t leave after his sophomore or junior seasons either. What he has done is almost unheard of in this day and age. A great, can’t miss prospect who isn’t solely focused on a pro career sticking it out in college for four years.

What he’s done is help to lead the Gators back from the depths on anonymity. After the Gators won back to back NCAA tournament titles, they lost the bulk of the team. The Gators suffered through two consecutive seasons where they missed the tourney altogether, after nine consecutive tourney invitations, and settled instead for the NIT.

Enter Boynton. In his freshman season the Gators finished 21-13 and 9-7 in conference play. More importantly they finally made it back to the tournament, albeit losing in the first round. Making it back though was a huge step. Boynton hit the ground running. He led the team in scoring only the second Gator freshman to do that, hit the second most three pointers in a season for a freshman. and was named to the SEC All Freshman team.

His sophomore season he helped the Gators improve to 26-7 losing to Kentucky in the SEC tournament finals. They earned their second consecutive NCAA tourney invitation as a number two seed, their highest seeding since the 2006-07 team, and subsequently made it to the Elite Eight before losing a heartbreaker to Butler on a late game cold shooting streak. Boynton increased his scoring average to 14.2 ppg and increased his made three point shots to 80 while improving his 3 pt shooting percentage from 29.4 to 33,1 as he was named second team All SEC.

Last season, as a junior, he really excelled, once again leading the team in scoring, increasing his scoring average to 15.9, his field goal percentage to 44%,  his three point percentage to 40.7%, and his made three pointers to 110, the second most season total in Gator history. For his efforts he was named first team All SEC by the coaches and second team All SEC by the AP as helped lead the Gators back into the Elite Eight of the NCAA tourney once again barely missing out on a Final Four appearance.

This season Boynton has struggled through a six game shooting slump which has dropped his three point percentage down to 35.5% and his overall field goal percentage to 40.4 as his scoring average has declined to 13.8. However, he did become the all time leading three point shooter passing Lee “For Three” Humphries when he shot a career high eight three pointers against Yale. He currently has 294 in his career. He has also moved up the career scoring chart passing both former teammate Erving Walker and Udonis Haslem landing at number three overall with 1782. Only Andrew Moten (1930) and Ronnie Williams (2090) have scored more in their Florida careers. There’s a good chance that Boynton could break the record before the season is over.

Head coach Billy Donovan has high praise for his talented senior who’s seen the ups and the downs of a college career while at Florida.

“I would say that Kenny Boynton, coming off of two NIT’s back to back, he comes in as a freshman and we get back to the NCAA tournament. His sophomore year we go to the Elite Eight, his junior year we go to the Elite Eight. So not only does he have these individual accomplishments that he’s chasing after, but he’s affected winning a lot for our program. And, regardless of what his future holds at the next level, I want for him to be able to walk through this experience and say ‘you know what, I got better as a player, we won at Florida, and I’m proud of  that accomplishment.’”

The interesting thing for Boynton is that coming in many felt he wouldn’t be at Florida long before bolting for the NBA. The fact that he hasn’t may actually be seen as somewhat of a disappointment in some circles but more realistically it’s a testament to his loyalty and character. In a day and age when people are expected to aim for the riches, Boynton is a throwback to the days before early entry and big contracts.

On that subject Donovan had this to say:

“There’s a great article, I forget who wrote it, but it was about players that stay for four years and have incredible college careers and they almost look at it as like it’s a disappointment that they are not doing it in the NBA for a ten year career.”

““So much in today’s day and age, everything is about the NBA and I understand why and I was no different than any player across the country of wanting to get to the NBA. But I also think there’s been maybe a change of philosophy so to speak as it relates to individual players, where if you don’t get to the NBA as quickly or as fast as possible or if you don’t make it in the NBA, that people have a tendency to forget a guy’s college career and experience.”

“Certainly, I hope, for all of our players, they play in the NBA and we’ve got a lot of them up there doing that. But I think hopefully Kenny, not only this milestone, but he’ll look at the fact that you know what, ‘I had an incredible career at Florida’ and he’ll have great, great pride in that and he’ll have a great sense of satisfaction. I hope he does.”

Whether or not he makes it in the NBA, I feel certain that he’ll look back with pride at all of his accomplishments in his four years at Florida. I know Gator Nation will.

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Billy Donovan, Florida Gator Basketball, Kenny Boynton

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