The first 3-pointer came on the first shot Jacobi Boykins took. His other jumpers – feet a foot off the ground, arms fully extended, perfect follow-through – dropped through the basket, one after another.
Piece by piece, Boykins reassembled his game. The Lakewood senior guard grabbed rebounds. He played defense with authority. And he did it all in front of reporters from recruiting services who were watching his every move at a Reebok camp two months ago.
Boykins made enough of an impression to become one of 100 players in the nation selected to the Reebok Classic Breakout, a three-day camp that starts Wednesday at Philadelphia University. The camp is held during the NCAA live period, which will give prospects a chance to play in front of college coaches.
“I just wanted to go out and prove to people that I can still play,” Boykins said. “I’m happy that I’m getting that chance.”
Boykins (6-foot-4, 180) also is happy because he made it back, from a severe car accident last year that left him with a broken neck to a high level of basketball where he is able to play and score like his old, explosive self.
On Nov. 6, Boykins was a passenger in a car that was pulling out of a driveway. It was foggy that morning. Another car with no headlights on plowed into them. Boykins was knocked unconscious.
“I really wondered if I was going to die,” he said.
Boykins woke up at Bayfront Hospital, where he stayed for a week.
He was hoping to sign with a Division-I college program, and was looking forward to a season of impressing scouts against elite competition.
Suddenly all of that was in jeopardy.
Instead, he had to wear a neck brace and faced two months of rehabilitation to heal his broken neck.
“I was devastated,” Boykins said. “My junior year was important, especially to be noticed by colleges. I was going to miss so much time I didn’t know if they would ever look at me again.”
He tried to come back during the season, but injuries extended his basketball exile. Boykins resumed playing in April. Still, it took him a while to get past the neck injury and focus on his game.
“I needed some time before I was able to feel like myself on the court,” Boykins said. “I think I was nervous about getting hurt again. I had to get my confidence back more than anything.”
By late April, Boykins was playing as if he never left. The colleges he thought would abandon him were suddenly taking notice. Boykins now has offers from Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International, Jacksonville, Rhode Island and Wyoming.
“Once Jacobi got back to playing full time, he started jumping out of the gym,” Lakewood coach Anthony Lawrence Jr. said. “He’s been explosive and has just started blowing up with colleges. He already has a lot of offers, and there will be more to come from some even bigger schools.”
George Mason, Marshall and Murray State have all showed interest and coaches from those schools will most likely be attending the Reebok Classic Breakout.
Boykins said he plans to attend showcases in South Carolina, Milwaukee and either Orlando or Las Vegas this month. He anticipates more offers and said he will wait until August before scheduling official visits.
“I’m excited that so many schools are showing an interest in me,” Boykins said. “I just want to keep going out there to let everyone know that I haven’t lost anything.”
NCAA Division I live evaluation period
July is a big month for elite prospects with three live evaluation periods for college coaches to attend NCAA certified events. The live evaluations during this time are limited to regularly scheduled high school, preparatory school and two-year college contests or tournaments, as well as practices and regular scholastic activities involving student-athletes enrolled only at that school. Here are the evaluation periods this month:
July 10-14 (5 p.m.)
July 17-21 (5 p.m.)
July 24-28 (5 p.m.)
July 9-12: Reebok Classic Breakout, Philadelphia
July 10-14: Adidas Invitational Classic, Indianapolis
July 10-14: Nike Peach Jam, North Augusta, S.C.
July 18-28: AAU Super Showcases and national tournaments, Orlando
July 24-28: Adidas Super 64, Las Vegas