College basketball season is approaching, and with that the Blue Zone gives you a breakdown of the 2020-2021 women's basketball squad. Be sure to check out the previous previews: Vanessa de Jesus, Uchenna Nwoke, Jiselle Havas, Sara Anastasieska, Jada Claude, Jaida Patrick, Onome Akinbode-James, Jennifer Ezeh and Miela Goodchild.
Last year's statline: 7.1 PPG, 2.9 APG
Game breakdown: Mikayla Boykin is one of the most valuable players on the Blue Devil roster. Unfortunately, her career thus far has been plagued by injuries, preventing her from playing one full season at Duke despite a three-year presence. However, her senior season may just be the year that we are able to see what she is truly capable of. After fully recovering from her ACL tear, Boykin closed out the 2019-2020 season in spectacular fashion, averaging 7.1 points per game and playing 22 or more minutes in her final eight games.
Boykin is a true point guard. Her agility and ball handling make her a threat every time she brings the ball up the court. She can dish the ball to her teammates with ease, as illustrated by her 2.9 assists per game. Not only that, but she is fully capable of pulling up and taking deep shots herself, as we saw when she hit five threes at Syracuse.
If you find yourself in a tough spot down the stretch, you’d be a fool to not place your trust in Boykin’s clutch gene. In just her fourth game back from injury at Virginia Tech, she recorded a then-career high of 14 points, mostly thanks to her swift mid-range jumper. In the final minute, she was entrusted with the ball, and despite being fresh off an injury, Boykin made a miraculous game-tying assist and then had three points in overtime, snapping Duke’s five-game losing streak and effectively turning the season around.
Role on the team: Along with fellow senior starter Jade Williams, Boykin will have to shoulder much of the responsibility for this team both on and off the court. Team captains are yet to be announced, but regardless of title, she is already a role model to her younger teammates. Between her inspirational story of injury recovery and her recent performance, she brings something truly valuable to the table on all fronts.
With combo guard Haley Gorecki moving on to professional basketball, Boykin has big shoes to fill. Gorecki dominated the backcourt and thrived in isolation situations, but head coach Kara Lawson will likely look to spread the floor and distribute the ball more evenly than last year. That being said, Boykin, as a point guard, will have her work cut out for her. We will likely see much more of her playmaking than we have before, but don’t count her out as a scorer either. As we’ve seen, when the ball is in her hands, just about anything can happen.
Projected stats: 28.5 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 4.3 APG
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