After Kiyon Boyd alerted the Washington, D.C. basketball scene of his presence, by lifting H.D. Woodson to a 33-0 season in 2015-16 and regularly filling the school’s gym with awing and adoring fans, a familiar narrative started to take shape.
He stopped working out as often. He heard people telling him he was great, but wasn’t as tuned into those telling him he still had to get better. He, like any teenager who went from sophomore starter to citywide star, started to give into temptation.
“It’s that same story. You start seeing, ‘Oh I’m ranked here,’ or, ‘I’m ranked this, I’m better than this kid, they say I’m ranked better than this kid,'” said Curtis Yarbrough Jr., Boyd’s trainer and legal guardian. “You know, you’re a teenager, so peer pressure is a very, very, very, very, very, very tough thing to overcome.
“That kid that you’re hanging out with? He might not work out that day, so then you don’t,” Yarbrough said. “That kid wants to go to a party instead of going to the gym, so you end up going to the party. It might seem like it’s just one moment, but then you add up all the times you didn’t work on your craft.”
This is what Yarbrough saw with Boyd after H.D. Woodson grabbed D.C.’s attention with an undefeated season two years ago. Boyd, all 6 feet, 5 inches and 210 pounds of him, was unstoppable. College coaches flocked to see him. His name was thrown into ESPN’s Top 100 for the Class of 2018. Boyd, who is from Southeast D.C. and started his high school career at Dunbar, was offered a handful of high-major scholarships before his 16th birthday. But the rapid ascent eventually slowed him down, and after a rocky junior year, Boyd is transferring to Massanutten Military Academy to straighten his path to the next level.
H.D. Woodson finished 19-10 this past season and forfeited in the DC State Athletic Association boys’ basketball tournament due to a lack of eligible players. Boyd missed a game on Jan. 4 and did not play in the team’s last three contests due to “school-related violations.” H.D. Woodson Coach Trey Mines announced on June 28 that he is not returning next season, and now neither will the star guard who mirrored the program’s highs and lows.
“You could see it happening,” Mines, who also coached Boyd with Team Loaded on the AAU circuit, said Sunday. “When he found success, things around him started to change, people around him started to change. Kiyon has potential beyond anything we’ve really seen in the city, not in this area necessarily, but in this city in a long time. Now it’s just trying to not have his environment be the reason that he doesn’t get to fulfill his potential and reach his dreams. That is pretty much the biggest reason for him leaving.”
A handful of private schools reached out about Boyd during his breakout sophomore season, Mines said, and this past year made it apparent that he needed a change of scenery.
Massanutten Coach Chad Myers has turned the Woodstock, Virginia program into a launching pad for high-level players. He coached Frank Mason, who starred at Kansas and is now playing for the Sacramento Kings, former Maryland big man Damonte Dodd and Jamarko Pickett, who started at Eastern in Washington and is now on his way to Georgetown after a prep season at Massanutten.
Yarbrough was drawn to Massanutten because it can provide needed discipline while mimicking a college environment: two-a-day practices, players living on their own, healthy food options, a military culture, and so on. And when Boyd visited the leafy campus at the end of July, the decision was sealed.
“It’s a huge life move to leave what you know, leave your home and family and start somewhere new like this,” Mines said. “I am proud of him for making a grown man decision and making it for himself. That’s ultimately what he did here, he made a decision for himself.”
Massanutten frequently attracts post-graduate players looking to solidify their college resumes, whether that be on the court or in the classroom. But Boyd has never reclassified and is expected to graduate after four high school seasons. There were rumors this season that he was behind academically, but Mines said Boyd has the necessary credits going into his senior year and is in line to meet NCAA requirements.
Boyd’s current college list includes Maryland, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Virginia Commonwealth and Tulane, and Yarbrough said Virginia Tech and Seton Hall are also in the mix. Boyd has yet to make an official visit, and those will be scheduled in the near future. But first he has to travel 90 miles west to a school that offers structure and, above all else, renewed opportunity.
“Before that lull, when he wasn’t working out as hard, he was practicing so much that he was like a machine,” Yarbrough said. “This season is going to be more of that. It’s going to be like a second coming-out party, and I don’t think the world has really seen what Kiyon Boyd can do.”
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