De’Janae Boykin’s recruiting process left quite the paper trail. Hundreds of envelopes stuffed with letters and brochures, sheets and sheets of paper, grew out of a big three-ring binder and into bins in the Boykins’ living room in a matter of weeks.
So it’s difficult to say which was the tougher task for the C.H. Flowers junior this spring: sorting through all that mail, narrowing it down to five schools, then to one, or making the USA Basketball U17 national team, a 12-player squad selected from 145 of the nation’s best — most of them with recruiting mail piles just as big as Boykin’s.
Boykin did both this spring, first paring down her encyclopedic list of offers to five — North Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee, Connecticut and Virginia. A few weeks ago, Boykin chose U-Conn. and the Huskies’ one-of-a-kind coach Geno Auriemma, who’d sat in her living room earlier this year.
“Of course I’d like to win, and I felt like that was the best place to challenge me and push me,” Boykin said. “It’ll push me, especially in the beginning, but I felt like that was the best place to develop my skills and show my skills and show what I can do.”
Boykin clinched her spot on the mailing lists of the nation’s top college programs when she made the USA basketball U16 national team for last year’s FIBA Americas Tournament, in which the U.S. took the gold. After a stellar junior season at Flowers for which she earned Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year and first-team All-Met honors, Boykin headed to Colorado Springs last week for a four-day tryout for the U17 team.
But this year’s team was for the FIBA World Championships in the Czech Republic, a much bigger, more visible event than even the FIBA Americas tournament. Only six of the gold medalists from last year’s U16 team were selected again to the U17 team. The new UConn. commit was one of them.
“It was scary to have to try out all over again, and I didn’t think I played well,” said Boykin, who played hurt for last year’s U16 tryouts and was shocked when her name was the first read for the roster. “It feels like a huge deal. It’ll be much more of a challenge and a much better team than last year.”
One of her teammates on that U17 team, Huntington Beach, Calif. product Katie Lou Samuelson, will also be heading to U-Conn. and provides a good measure of the caliber of players she’ll be competing with for the Huskies.
“I’m not too worried and thinking about coming in and starting right away,” Boykin said. “Of course I’d like to play, but I’m not putting pressure on me as a freshmen. Just trying to work hard.”
Boykin and the U17 team will compete in the world championships beginning June 28 in Klatovy and Plzen, Czech Republic after a 16-day training camp in June.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 4
By the time Boykin suits up for the Huskies, it will have been four seasons since the last D.C.-area product played in Storrs. Good Counsel’s Kaili McLaren was the last D.C. area-bred Husky, and she graduated in 2010. Georgetown center Natalie Butler (Lake Braddock) also recent transferred to U-Conn. and after sitting out next year, will suit up for the Huskies alongside Boykin for the 2015-16 season.
— Huntingtown girls’ soccer standout Tori Bellucci introduced President Obama at his concussion summit at the White House Thursday.
— Langley captain Billy Orme earned his title last night as he sparked the Saxons past Westfield and into the 6A North region lacrosse semifinals.
— South County’s Charles Rygiel was just another one of the guys on the Stallions’ varsity lacrosse team. And since he battles cystic fibrosis, that’s an achievement in itself.
— A great read on the player labeled by some the “biggest bust in Penn State recruiting history,” who’s finally coming to terms with that and other parts of his adult identity.
— And now to football, Briar Woods sophomore TE Mark Birmingham added some school called Florida State to his list of offers.
PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Robinson girls’ lacrosse made team history last night with a 14-11 win over rival W.T. Woodson that propelled the Rams into the 6A North region semifinals. Here are the pics:
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
In a stunning game worthy of every bit of playoff hype you could give it, Loudoun Valley girls’ lacrosse edged Marshall 14-13 in three overtimes to advance in the 1A-5A North region playoffs. Here are the highlights:
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Virginia spring sports playoffs are deep into the North region tournaments, and there’s a solid slate of lacrosse and soccer games on the schedule for tonight. Among the best matchups of the evening is No. 8 Osbourn Park vs. No. 10 Chantilly in a 6A North region girls’ soccer showdown at 7 p.m. at Chantilly.