Tuesday, September 17, 2013

White Plains' Boykin Continues Pro Career In Hoops-crazed China


Basketball has taken Dave Boykin well beyond his White Plains roots.

The former Tigers guard, who starred at Division-II Bridgeport as an innate point guard with a patented cock-back jumper, is prolonging an over-the-waters career in China.

One year after playing in Willich, Germany, Boykin is currently plying his trade in the regal basketball real estate of China. It is beyond a game here. It is a tool for community engagement and entertainment that brings fans in droves.

China has been an acclimation process for the Jiangsu Lions’ new combination guard.

 Once a fan of delicious General Tso’s chicken, the 6-foot-3 combination guard admits transitioning to a new diet has been a process. He’s managing.

Boykin is also absorbing the particulars of Chinese culture.

Though he’s as puzzled by Chinese conversation as he was German lingo during his first few weeks in the country, Boykin is enjoying the experience.

Basketball has steadily evolved into the central sport in China, one of the country’s much-ballyhooed pastimes.

Stephon Marbury, the former New York Knick and Brooklyn native, has become one of China's most prominent sports figures. Marbury, who wore out his welcome with the then-floundering New York Knicks, has regenerated his professional career with the Beijing Ducks. The guard out of Coney Island has resuscitated his image, which was sullied during his final years in New York.

Boykin has felt China's burgeoning basketball love on a daily basis, the increased fanfare is notable.

He’s been stopped in the street countless times; posed for pictures and penned his autograph for fans of varying ages.

“The pro game is different here than the game I’m used to at home,” said Boykin, who averaged 11.7 points and drained a 71 three-point field goals, piloting Bridgeport to the ECC tournament championship as a junior.

“It’s more physical and the refs let you get away with more physical play, which I use to my advantage. My role with the team is to control the tempo and make big plays when we need it.”

Boykin adds an American presence to the Lions, which has U.S. flavor with Rob Giles (Ball State), Justin Bocot (Southern Illinois), and Morikinyo Williams (Citadel).

Since he stepped foot on foreign soil, Boykin has sustained his focus.

He’s worked on becoming more adept offensively, hunting for his shot in more aggressive fashion.

Playing in various street tournaments over the summer helped shape Boykin's driving game. He's pursuing the lanes more than ever, looking to scrape defenders of the dribble and attack rather than settling.

Under Spencer Mayfield at White Plains, Boykin was an innate creator. He took more pleasure in making his teammates better, engineering the offense, and applying the draping defense that Mayfield's teams are known for.

 At Bridgeport, Boykin adjusted to playing off the ball. Featuring that funky pullback slingshot jumper, Boykin emerged into a threat beyond the arc. In Germany, Boykin suddenly subscribed to the role of  high-volume scorer. It was an adjustment. While Boykin was always one to operate the offensive flow, with a mixed bag of 3-pointers, pull-ups, and slashes, he was never really known as a furious scorer.

“My teammates immediately embraced me and put the ball in my hands," Boykin said.

"In my last two years of playing professionally, my game has definitely grown. I’m still a natural point guard, but I’ve enhanced my ability to score the ball now. I look forward to continuing to get better.”

White Plains has evolved into a veritable Westchester-Euroball factory.

Former Tiger guard Devon Austin, who played at Manhattan College, is authoring a career with CSU Sibiu in Romania.

The over-the-waters pipeline continues. 

Former White Plains guard Jamell Cromartie recently wrapped up a tryout in Braslavia, Slovakia.

 Cromartie last played for the semi-pro Buffalo Warriors. The Warriors, a piecemeal core predicated on a souped-up tempo, are synonymous with playground-esque flash.

Cromartie earned attention following a 37-point eruption, during his second game. It was his performance during the Summer Pro League in Rostock, Germany, however which helped bolster his stock.

While the European pipeline opens, a pair of alums will likely pursue pro paths here in the states.

Cincinnati swingman Sean Kilpatrick’s NBA draft stock has increased. At the same time, athletic guard Ra’Shad James (Northwood University) has worked out for several NBA teams since June.