Duke received some good news nearly two months before its season opener in a decision that will affect the long-term future of the program.
According to a press release Wednesday morning, the NCAA granted Blue Devil point guard Mikayla Boykin a medical hardship waiver for the 2017-18 season, which means she still has four more years of eligibility remaining. At the start of last November, Boykin was tabbed the starting point guard with Kyra Lambert still in the midst of her recovery from an ACL tear. In the 10 games before suffering an injury of her own, the Clinton, N.C., native averaged 4.6 points to accompany 3.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
The freshman standout had her best game of her young career when the Blue Devils opened the season on the road against Grand Canyon, when the rookie contributed a season and career-high 12 points in 32 minutes. But only a month later, Boykin joined Lambert on the sidelines after she suffered a left-knee injury in a blowout victory against Winthrop. From that point on, then-graduate student Lexie Brown took over the point guard job—her natural position—and led the team to a Sweet 16 matchup with top-seed Connecticut.
Since this season-ending injury was sustained in the first half of the season and Boykin played in fewer than 30 percent of Duke’s games last season, she was eligible for the medical hardship waiver.
Although Lambert is expected to return to running the point, Boykin can play alongside the veteran and continue to gain knowledge from her teammate on and off the floor. But with only two starters returning, the Blue Devils will need to replicate much of their lost offensive attack. The “Splash Sisters”—made up of Brown and classmate Rebecca Greenwell—averaged 33.3 points per contest while senior Erin Mathias contributed 8.6 of her own.
Boykin, who averaged 37.4 points per game at Clinton High School, can be counted on to put the ball in the basket, as she showed an ability to knock down the 3-point shot. With senior Faith Suggs, redshirt junior Haley Gorecki and sophomore Jayda Adams returning, the Blue Devils will have options with experience alongside Boykin and Lambert running the offense. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie also added two freshman guards in Miela Goodchild and Rayah Craig. Boykin, Goodchild and Craig all have four years of eligibility remaining.
Duke will open up its regular season on the road against McCallie’s alma mater, Northwestern, Nov. 11 in Evanston, Ill. But before then, the Blue Devils will take the floor in front of their home fans for the annual Blue/White scrimmage Oct. 21. McCallie’s team will then face Alaska-Anchorage Nov. 4 in its final tune-up before the regular season begins.